Vet Chat


Drying off made easier

Although many dairy farmers are very experienced with the procedure of drying off cows, it is worthwhile to have a review at least once annually. This is particularly important if there are new staff or different facilities from the previous dry-off period.

Our vets can review your protocols leading-up-to and after drying off, as well as the technique of administering dry cow therapy. In herds where selective dry cow treatment is used, our vets can assist with interpreting herd test or milk meter data, to identify cows requiring treatment. The number of cases of clinical mastitis in freshly calved heifers and cows can also be reviewed to determine if the use of a teat sealant would be beneficial. Pre-ordering specific dry cow therapy and teat sealant allows delivery of these products in a timely manner. A management plan for cows with repeat cases of mastitis, 3-titter cows and cows with chronically high cell counts should be made in advance of the calving period.

Some vaccines must be administered at drying off to ensure that peak-effect coincides with colostrum production. These ‘colostral vaccines’ are recommended on a farm-by-farm basis and are generally used for the control of calf scour pathogens. A primary course usually involves two vaccines given a specified period apart prior to expected calving. Annual boosters are often required but remember that new heifers calving for the first time and bought-in cows will need the primary course and this should be planned for in advance. Pre-ordering of colostral vaccines will ensure that adequate stock is available when you require it.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to plan your transition cow ration, in conjunction with your nutritionist or veterinarian. A review of records will help identify if any changes are necessary from the previous transition cow ration. Monitoring of transition cow ration and associated health problems is essential to identify any issues as early as possible.


Take stock of any drugs used in cows and calves on the farm and safely discard any out-of-date products. Our vets can review which veterinary drugs may be needed and can advise on drug selection, dosage and administration. Re-stock appropriate sized needles and syringes for cows and calves, along with a secure sharps-container for safe disposal of used needles.

Specific treatment protocols are beneficial for common problems in cows and calves and should be discussed with your vet prior to calving. Treatment protocols help all staff recognise common diseases and how to select an appropriate treatment. Ensure all staff are adequately trained in recognising the stages of labour, when a cow needs assistance and how to assist. It is a good idea to have everything required for an assisted calving in a convenient location next to the crush. Equipment used to deal with new-born calves should also be checked and re-stocked as necessary.

Adequate preparation and the right planning can pave the way for a successful calving period. Please contact the clinic for more information on how our vets can assist you with this planning through our Calving Cows program.

Adapted from an original article in Dairy News Australia (December 2017) by Apiam vet Dr Gemma Chuck.

Have any questions? Talk to your dairy vet on to how prepare for dry off.