For a number of years now we have advised suppliers of the need to dry off cows quickly as yields drop towards the end of lactation. We have monitored this using the ration of Lactose to Protein present in the milk. This guideline was provided by Moorepark many years ago. However equally effective and simpler to understand is to base this judgment purely on the lactose content of the milk. Typically milk will contain greater than 4.6% lactose; late lactation milk from cows under pressure can be as low as 3.6%. A low lactose level other than at drying off needs to be investigated individually but usually indicates a problem with diet.

To discourage cows being milked long past their drying off point we are introducing payment based on lactose as follows:

   Average Lactose    Cent/Litre/Month
  > 4.25     No change
   4.00 – 4.24         - 1 c/lt.
  < 3.99   - 2.5 c/lt. .