Calving Pens - Managing condition

Dry cow housing and calving pens

Dry cow management should be of at least the same standard as that of the milking herd. On many farms however it is often badly managed.

Calving pens should be clean, comfortable and provide good grip for cows. Third lactation and older cows are most susceptible to milk fever; should a cow develop milk fever in a clean comfortable well-bedded pen, complications such as mastitis and physical injuries are less likely to occur and treatment will be easier. Other illnesses associated with hygiene at calving, such as uterine infections, Johne's disease and calf scours will also be better controlled.

Cows near to calving are more ideally housed and calved ideally in individual pens, which are well-bedded with fresh, clean, dry bedding and mucked-out and preferably disinfected between every calving cow.

Group-housed dry cows in cubicles should be managed much the same as lactating cows housed in cubicles. Similarly, group-housed dry cows housed in straw yards or pens, particularly those near to calving, must be managed in a similar way to lactating cows housed in the same system. Either housed individually or as a group, they should be stocked at no more than 15m2 per cow in straw yards and pens.