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A survey of drying-off practices on commercial dairy farms in northern Germany and a comparison to science-based recommendations
  1. Sandra Bertulat,
  2. Carola Fischer-Tenhagen and
  3. Wolfgang Heuwieser1
  1. Clinic for Animal Reproduction, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Wolfgang Heuwieser; w.heuwieser{at}fu-berlin.de

Abstract

While dry cow management is important for health, milk production and fertility information on drying-off procedures implemented on commercial dairy farms is lacking. Current drying-off management procedures on commercial dairy farms were evaluated using a questionnaire and results compared with recommendations given in the current literature. Ninety-one participants from a farmer education event completed the survey. On average, cows were dried off seven weeks before calving. Only 9.9 per cent of the farms had a dry period length of five weeks or less. A continuous milking regime without dry period was not established on any farm participating in the survey. Most farmers performed an abrupt drying-off (73.0 per cent). Only 11.8 and 15.0 per cent attempted to lower milk yield prior to drying-off by reducing milking frequencies and adjusting feed rations, respectively. While a blanket antibiotic dry cow treatment was carried out on 79.6 per cent of the farms, selective dry cow treatment was not mentioned by any farmer. Although 77.4 per cent preponed the drying-off date in low-yielding cows, an altered drying-off procedure in high-yielding dairy cows was rare (9.7 per cent). This survey provides an insight into drying-off procedures currently applied on commercial dairy farms in northern Germany.

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  • Received July 3, 2014.
  • Revision received October 8, 2014.
  • Accepted October 23, 2014.
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