While trying to decide what I wanted to write about, I thought of an article from February 2013 in The William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute Farm Report. Before you read my analysis, take a look at that article: Are Your Cows Getting Enough Metabolizable Protein?

Dry cow ration balancing used to consist of providing enough protein, fiber, and a minimal amount of energy. Trying to get more out of the early lactation cows should be a goal for most producers. Each 1 pound of peak milk translates into about 300 pounds of increased milk for the entire lactation. Pre fresh rations are utilized to try to accomplish getting more pounds of peak milk and reducing the incidence of metabolic disorders during freshening.

Over the years I have struggled to get pre fresh rations just right. A few years ago I started doing MP balancing for far off and close up rations. The herds that I fed like this saw a decrease in metabolic disorders and better peak milk production. We liked how the program worked, but could not fully understand why it worked.

Last year I read the following article from the Miner Institute and I believe it gives us a great roadmap on how to create and manage a really good dry cow diet. I find the relationship between protein mobilization and ketosis especially interesting. Thinking about the massive demand for protein to mobilize to the udder at freshening helps explain the need for a closer look at these diets.

I have changed how we feed our customer’s dry cows, expanding on the MP balancing mentioned in following article. The results are exceeding our customer’s expectations. Here are a few things that we are doing to get the best results utilizing MP in dry cow diets:

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  1. Make sure that enough MP is fed.
    • 1100 grams/hd./day for far off groups.
    • 1300 grams/hd./day for close up groups.
  2. Meet and or exceed lysine requirements next.
  3. Add methionine sources for a 3:1 lysine to methionine ratio.
  4. Make sure we meet and or exceed RDP requirements.
  5. Starch is important to dry cows.  Especially close up groups.
  6. If straw is used, length of chop should not exceed 2”.


One group dry cow rations can be used with success. I have several customers that utilize it for different reasons. If you are looking at getting the most out of your dry cow program, please give myself or Melvin a call, we would be happy to analyze your diet and show you what our customers already know.  A small investment for your dry cows equals a big return for your lactating cows.

Dan Tanata
Feed & Grain Manager