One of the questions that I receive frequently is, “How do I dry off a dairy doe?”
My best advice is to stop milking her. If the doe was on grain while she was being milked, either cut the grain out of her diet, or cut the amount down considerably.
A doe will continue to produce some milk as long as you milk her out. The method of gradually cutting back on the milking schedule to dry a doe off never works for me.
Best bet: cold turkey, stop milking.
I have only had one case of mastitis in my milking herd. The doe never had mastitis again in subsequent years. For that particular doe, when I took her out of milk each year, I infused her teats with Tomorrow (a long-acting antibacterial product). I infused and did not milk again until she freshened the following season.
Always watch for signs of mastitis: doe is off feed, doe is standing away from the crowd, udder is hard/hot/swollen. Keep in mind, however, the udder will swell for 3 or 4 days after you stop milking. It takes a few days for the hormones to kick in and say, “No more milk!” The body then begins to resorb the milk from the udder.
With a very thin doe, I do continue feeding some grain after I dry her off. In most cases, however, worming her (if needed), and offering her good quality hay will put the weight back on. I do not feed grain again until late in pregnancy, the 2nd or 3rd month. Increase gradually as the due date nears. A good quality alfalfa mix hay is a sufficient supplement otherwise.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please let me know if you have additional questions.