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J Dairy Sci. 2007 Feb;90(2):898-907.

Effects of two different feeding strategies during dry-off on certain health aspects of dairy cows.

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Department of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-753 23 Uppsala, Sweden.


With increasing milk production and short calving intervals, high daily milk yields at dry-off are rather common, making the dry-off procedure difficult and increasing the risk for health problems during the dry-off period. The objective of the following study was to compare the effects of 2 dry-off protocols, using different nutrient supplies, on health, as measured by clinical findings, intramammary infections, milk somatic cell count, and plasma concentrations of cortisol, serum amyloid A, haptoglobin, and Mg, in dairy cows. Twenty-one primi- and multiparous dairy cows were randomly assigned to 2 different feeding treatments. One group was fed ad libitum straw (straw), whereas the other group was fed 4 kg of DM silage daily and ad libitum straw (silage) during dry-off (i.e., for 5 d). All cows were milked in the morning of d 3 and 5 during this period. At the start of dry-off (d 0), the average daily milk yield was 17.1 +/- 0.8 kg. The plasma cortisol concentration increased during dry-off only in cows fed straw. There was no significant effect of treatment on plasma serum amyloid A, but the concentration increased during dry-off in both groups. The plasma Mg concentration decreased during dry-off, and the values tended to be lower in the straw group. The milk somatic cell count increased in both groups during dry-off but did not differ between groups. In both groups the heart rate decreased at dry-off, but the decrease was more pronounced in the straw group. Overall, this study (together with a previous report) shows that the common dry-off procedure of feeding straw only may give rise to metabolic disturbances. However, this might be avoided without any apparent negative effects on udder health if a limited amount of silage is added during dry-off.

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