Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service

Dry cow tests

Good nutrition in the dry period has great value to production, health and fertility.


"Asking the cows" what they think of their dry cow management through blood testing is the only way to check.

It is not often apparent if failings and problems in the following lactation have been caused by failings in dry cow nutrition.

We need to know that:

  • cows are not starting to lose condition in the run up to calving
  • rumen degradable protein intake is adequate, major minerals are balanced
  • trace element intakes are sufficient

These things can only be checked by blood tests.

Good dry cow nutrition and management leads to more milk and milk protein production and better fertility. There is less ketosis, milk fever, mastitis, lameness, retained placenta, stillbirth, weak calves and displaced abomasum.

Tests analysed

  • Energy - NEFA, BOHB, Glucose
  • Protein - Albumin, Globulin, Urea-N
  • Minerals - Magnesium, Phosphate
  • Trace Elements - Copper GSHPx (selenium)

Criteria for Testing

  1. Tests should be timed just before larger groups of cows start calving. Then, if changes are necessary, they can benefit the cows not yet in the high risk period.
  2. Two groups of five cows each at least should be sampled.
  3. One group should consist of cows with less than 10 days to go to calving. This is the most important group because this is when any nutritional imbalances are most likely to occur and be detected. Cows should be typical of their group.
  4. One group of cows with about one month to go to calving should be sampled as well - mainly for comparison.
  5. From each cow two samples should be collected into lithium heparin anticoagulant (green top) and one in to oxalate fluoride (grey top- within expiry date).
  6. Background information should be provided about the farm and the cows - expected calving date, weight by heart girth measurement, body condition score and feeding. These details should be entered on a Sheet 3.


Invoices are generated monthly and are sent to a farm's veterinary practice as is standard for veterinary testing laboratories.

Price list

Please get in touch with us here in the office if you have any queries regarding the best groups of cows to sample.

Dairy Herd Health and Productivity Service

  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Contact details



Easter Bush Campus

Post Code
EH25 9RG


  • 9-00am - 5.00pm