|Pia (at the back) celebrating|
After ten months milking she needs to build up her reserves of body fat and to grow the foetus ( or foetuses, we don't know how many yet) before giving birth. We started the "drying off" process this week by reducing her concentrate feed to about 0.5 kg sugar beet pulp. She gets as much good quality hay as she can eat.
Next we stopped milking in the evening. When the udder is overstocked (full) and not milked out there is a negative feedback system of hormones that tells the brain, "don't produce so much milk".
Two weeks from now we'll milk on alternate days and then around the end of the month stop milking entirely. All of the time she has to be monitored for mastitis (bacterial infection of the udder). At this point we will infuse each teat with a long acting antibiotic to further combat mastitis and she will have two months off , eating and idling before the next lactation.