With the calves off milk and no pigs over the winter, we really don't have a use for all of the milk that Abby makes. Soo, that (along with a few other factors) means it's time to dry her off!
What do I mean,'dry her off?’ Well, the term 'dry off’ basically just means to quit milking. And a 'dry cow’ is a dairy cow that is not currently lactating (making milk).
Like with many other topics we’ve shared on this blog, different farms do different things but dry off time is pretty simple around here.
We simply stop milking. Several factors affect milk production but the most important is stimulation and the regular removal of milk. If the teats are no longer stimulated and milk is no longer removed from the udder it sends a signal to the brain to stop making milk.
At the same time, we also decrease the amount of grain that Abby gets. While the steers live almost exclusively on hay and grass from four months of age on, Abby eats a fair amount of grain every day to support milk production. So decreasing her grain is a good way to slow down/stop her from making milk. She still gets as much free choice hay or grass as she can eat, depending on the season but no more grain.
Abby is usually uncomfortable for 2 or 3 days after we stop milking her but once milk production stops and the body reabsorbs whatever milk was left in her udder, it's vacation time for her!
And it's a nice break for us too!
Brun Ko Farm