How to Dry Up a High Producing Guernsey Cow?

I want to formally introduce Eleanor, the most wonderful Guernsey cow we got to replace dear Annabelle and Becca (we found an amazing home for Becca.) Her calf is due Aug. 16th and so to have her dry two full months before her due date, she must be dry by June 16th.

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It still breaks my heart that for my lack of knowledge… that we lost Gert (grass tetany) and Annabelle (milk fever/ketosis) but I am encouraged greatly to have found an amazing website Keeping a Family Cow, where there is a wealth of knowledge among the members. I have tried to read as much as I can on that website in the last week, and now am asking for what advice my fellow cow friends have, on how to properly dry up a high producing cow.

Here is the thread on the Keeping a Family Cow forum if you want to participate.

She is a registered A2/A2 Guernsey, born April 26, 2012.  We bought her in Cortez, CO, but she came from the Spencer Dairy in Oregon. She had her first calf May 1st, 2014. The man we purchased her from was new to AI and he made several attempts before having her bred on Nov. 4, 2014 to Springhill Jackpot.

This means she has been producing milk for a year and a month, producing over 6 gallons a day.  She never had her calf on her, as he takes the calves away from the moms right when they are born. We bought her near the end of March and when we got her home we did transition her to once a day milking. She then went to 4 gallons a day to now pretty steady 3 gallons a day.

She was not on pasture when we bought her, and he fed her a (certainly GMO) sweet feed for horses, 6 to 8 pounds per milking twice a day, and about that much wheat bran, and free choice alfalfa. We give her about 1 pound of organic three way grain, and a two pound coffee can of wheat bran, and Chaffehay and alfalfa/grass hay when we milk her, and daily on free choice grass hay, and now the pasture grass is coming on in the last two weeks or so, which has increased her production the last few days a bit.

She also had an extreme case of edema when she first calved, so she still has an udder wound high up in between her front two quarters and her stomach. He was unaware of the wound, until right before we bought her. I have been washing the wound down every week, and every day I treat it with Steuart’s Wound Spray and every week I apply this wound barrier after scrubbing the wound.

The wound is much better, and the vet said that she cannot sew it or anything, but I cannot say it is healed (any ideas on how to heal that?)  I am hoping that by drying her off that the pressure will be removed from it and it can completely heal in two months before her next calf is due. I worry about drying her off and that pressure making it worse.

I am most grateful for any advice on her condition, feed advice, and how to dry her off (anything else is most appreciated as well.) I know I should cut her feed back, and I have been reluctant to do that because she has lost weight the last month, as she hardly eats hay now (bored with it) and the green grass is not abundant to keep the weight on her yet.

I have researched many possibilities, and am thinking about just milking her every other day for a week, which should slow her production way down, and then just quit milking her. Also there is the school of thought of just stopping milking cold-turkey, but most I have read about that would be if their production is under two gallons.

Thank you all so much for your advice, as we love her so much.

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And while I am at it, this is Faline, who is looking much better.  She could not keep the weight on this winter. Her second calf is due July 21st, and she is only on pasture, and dry hay if she wants it.

Both cows are on the ABC plus, free choice mineral system.

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11 thoughts on “How to Dry Up a High Producing Guernsey Cow?

  1. Pingback: 5 Fun Dairy Cow Facts You Didn't Know. Milk Delivery California

  2. Jamie really good calendula oil helped heal Sugar’s severe teat cut a few years ago. And I need to check in my books at home but there are a couple of homeopathics that help dry off. I will let you know..
    What a beautiful cow!
    xoxo steph

    • Thank you Stephanie. I milked her today, after holding her for several sessions of 36 hours and then 60 hours. Her bag was huge this morning and she was rubbing a sore on it, but her production is down. Hopefully only one more time milking. I put coconut oil/lanolin with tea tree and peppermint oil on her bag and her udder wound is doing much better. How is Sugar? And Marie (and you?) 🙂 I’ll try my calendula oil also, but I don’t want to touch her for a few days.

  3. Jamie you are amazing!!! Well us ladies can tape cabbage leaves onto our boobs…. that’s an old tradition to dry them
    up – but with cows…. hmmm I wish I could help! Cabbage leaves on utters???

    • haha!!! Judith! too funny. I’ve never heard the cabbage leaf trick, but I am sure if I did that, then the piggies would run after her trying to eat the cabbage. 😉

  4. Hi Jamie!

    I hope this makes it to you as I can never seem to comment on your blog. To dry her up, I’d slowly cut back on feed (to get to her dry ration) and then also slowly cut back on milking her (how much and how often). Hope you are WELL!!! Loved your last post about piggies!

    love ashley

    • Dear Ashley, Thank you so much for your advice. I need to reread your excellent post on drying up a cow, but she has never had a calf on her. I hope you are well, and much love to you. 🙂

  5. I am truly amazed you can do what you are doing – fascinating!! YOur animals are beautiful, and obviously are loved!

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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