“When should I breed back my cow?” and “When should I dry off my cow?” are two questions I get fairly often from homesteaders who have jumped into the world of dairy cow ownership.
Proper management of your homestead dairy cow requires knowing a few basic number facts related to dairy cattle. In this article we will look at these numbers and how to use them to calculate when to breed and dry off your family milk cow.
The first thing you need to know is that a cow’s reproductive cycle is about 21 days. This means that every 21 days your cow will come into a heat where she could possibly be bred and conceive a calf.
There are several signs associated with a cow in a “standing heat”. She might not let her milk down at milking time, she may be more alert than normal, her eyes may look bigger, she might be more vocal, she will exhibit a thin and clear mucus from her vulva, she may try to mount other cows, and she will stand still when mounted by another cow.
To calculate when to breed and dry off your cow, you must keep in mind that the ideal lactation length is 305 days and the optimal dry period is 60 days. From the date of freshening you should try breed your cow at the 60 day mark.
If breeding using artificial insemination, you should inseminate 12 hours from the first sign of standing heat. This means that 12 hours from the first time you see her actually stand when mounted by another cow. Since the volume of sperm is much less than when breeding with a bull, it is important to inseminate close to ovulation. Many people breed to soon and the sperm are dead by the time the cow ovulates.
When your cow is confirmed pregnant, you should calculate her due date (using the average 283 day gestation period) and then count back 60 days. This is the date that you should dry off your cow.