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Body condition dry off targets

With herds (hopefully) drying off in April or May, NOW is the time to assess condition score and ensure your herd BCS is on target for optimal production and reproduction next season. In conjunction with your feed budgets, this is critical information required to plan your dry-off dates so body condition score targets are met.

Body condition score (BCS) at calving is a vital influencer of milk production and reproductive performance in dairy cattle. A cow that calves at BCS 4, on average will produce 15 kgs of milk solids less and cycle on average 8-10 days later than a cow that calves at BCS 5. The lost days in milk from cycling later results in a further loss of 15-20 kgs of milk production the following season.

The optimal BCS at calving should be 4.5-5.5/10 with all heifers and 1st calvers above 5/10 if possible.

Due to the increased demands of the foetus and udder development during the late dry period it is difficult to put weight on cows at this time. Further, cows put on body weight up to 20% more efficiently during lactation compared with the dry period. These two facts make it a preferable option to increase BCS now and maintain it as close to the optimal calving BCS as possible.

This autumn, whether still lactating or already dried off, give your cows every chance of reaching important BCS targets by using EPRINEX (still the gold standard in worm control in adult cattle). Whether it is a selective treatment of lighter condition cows, or whole herd treatment to take full advantage of the demonstrated production gains, you will know that you have made a wise decision to prepare your herd for next season.