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J Dairy Sci. 2006 Nov;89(11):4220-8.

Omitting the dry-off period negatively affects colostrum and milk yield in dairy goats.

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1
Grup de Recerca en Remugants, Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain. gerardo.caja@uab.es

Abstract

Seventeen pregnant multiparous Murciano-Granadina dairy goats, kept in a semi-intensive exploitation system with once daily milking throughout lactation and 1 kidding per year (milk yield, 577 L/300 d), were used to study the effects of dry-off period length on performance during the subsequent lactation. Goats were mated at wk 29 of lactation and were assigned to 2 experimental groups according to dry-off treatment: goats that were dried off 56 d before expected kidding (D56; n = 9) and goats without dry-off (D0; n = 8). After parturition, kids were removed from their mothers and weighed before suckling. Goats were hand milked to obtain colostrum and were machine milked thereafter. Colostrum was sampled for composition and IgG analysis. Milk yield was recorded weekly during the preceding and subsequent lactations. Udders were biopsied in a sample of goats at d -65 (late lactation), d -49 (during dry-off), and d 48 (early lactation) to kidding (d 0). Apoptotic and proliferating cells in mammary tissues were detected immunohistochemically. Five goats (63%) in the D0 group dried off spontaneously at 27 +/- 4 d before kidding and were considered separately (D27). The rest of the D0 goats yielded 0.86 L/d from d -56 to kidding. Goats kidded 2.25 kids/goat, but the D0 kids had smaller birth weights (1.7 kg) than the D27 (2.2 kg) and D56 (2.1 kg) kids. Colostrum of the D0 goats contained less IgG (5.6 mg/mL) than the D27 (32.9 mg/mL) and the D56 (42.4 mg/mL) goats. In the subsequent lactation (210 d), the D0 goats produced less milk (1.78 L/d) than the D27 (2.51 L/d) and D56 (2.24 L/d) goats, with no detectable difference between the D27 and D56 goats. Apoptosis and proliferation indices increased from 0.51 and 2.09%, at d -65, to 1.75 and 7.12% at d -49 (d 7 of dry-off) in D56 goats. Despite differences in daily milk yield during early lactation (d 48) between the D0, D27, and D56 treatments (1.73, 2.68, and 2.53 L/d, respectively), no differences in apoptosis or proliferation indices were detected (D0: 0.65 and 2.48%; D27: 0.68 and 1.37%; and D56: 0.71 and 2.95%), indicating that duration of the dry period did not affect mammary cell turnover during the subsequent lactation. Omitting the dry period between lactations reduced the quality of colostrum and had negative effects on milk yield in dairy goats. Goats dried off spontaneously for 27 d were as productive as goats dried off for 56 d, indicating that less than 2 mo of dry-off may be sufficient in practice.

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