As I walked across the pasture tonight to check on our dairy cows that are due to calve any day, I heard the loud chorus of the crickets proclaiming the end of summer. It seems like life around us right now is full of transitions--school starting,seasons changing,county fair finished,both sons home on the farm for the first time in four years. Even the cows are in transition! These cows that I'm checking tonight have been moved close to the house within the last two weeks so that we can monitor them frequently and provide assistance with calving if needed.
Dairy cows experience a transition period from sixty days prior to calving until forty days after calving. During this transition period, known as the dry period, the cows are removed from the milking herd and allowed to rest in the pasture until they give birth. A carefully managed dry cow diet that contains adequate protein,vitamins and minerals, medium quality forage, and a small amount of grain will prepare the cow for a smooth transition into the milking herd, provide optimum milk production in early lactation and reduce the incidence of metabolic disorders.
Caring for our cows during this important transition time in the cow's life leads to high quality, wholesome milk. Tomorrow we have three more cows that will begin their transition into the dry period and be removed from the milking herd. One thing is constant in life and on the dairy farm--transition!