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J Dairy Sci. 2005 Oct;88(10):3530-41.

The effects of dry period versus continuous lactation on metabolic status and performance in periparturient cows.

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1
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Foulum, Department of Animal Health and Welfare, PO Box 50, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.

Abstract

It has been argued that dairy cows with a high genetic milk production potential can maintain high milk production even with total omission of the dry period. Further, when omitting the dry period, cows are believed to experience fewer metabolic changes during the transition from late gestation to early lactation compared with cows having a traditional dry period. The performance and metabolic response to omission of the dry period for cows with an expected peak milk yield higher than 45 kg/d were studied in 28 Holstein dairy cows. The cows were followed in late gestation and in the subsequent 5 wk of early lactation. Fourteen cows were milked through late gestation (CM) and another 14 dairy cows underwent a 7-wk dry period (DRY). In the early lactation period, the cows had the same dry matter (DM) intake but cows in the CM group had a 22% reduction in milk yield compared with the cows in the DRY group. At calving, the experimental groups had the same average body weight and body condition score and there were no significant differences in body weight and body condition score changes in early lactation. However, the cows in the CM group compared with the cows in the DRY group had a higher plasma concentration of glucose and insulin and a lower plasma concentration of nonesterified fatty acids and beta-hydroxybutyrate in the following 5 wk of early lactation. Furthermore, the cows in the CM group had lower liver triacylglycerol concentration and higher liver glycogen concentration in the following early lactation. It is concluded that, even in dairy cows with an expected peak milk yield above 45 kg/d, omission of the dry period results in a relatively high reduction in milk yield in the following early lactation. Furthermore, these cows are in less metabolic imbalance in the following early lactation.

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