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J Dairy Sci. 1998 Apr;81(4):994-1003.

Effect of extreme walking conditions for dairy cows on milk yield, chemical composition, and somatic cell count.

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Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique, Laboratoire Adaptation des Herbivores aux Milieux, Saint Genès Champanelle, France.


Thirty-two cows (16 Montbeliardes and 16 Tarentaises) in midlactation were used in an experiment utilizing a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Throughout the trial, cows received first-cutting cocksfoot hay for ad libitum intake supplemented with a fixed amount of concentrate that was individually adapted to the milk yield of each cow. During a 23-d experimental period, one group of cows walked 9.6 km/d; the other group of cows remained in the barn. Cows that walked daily ate less hay (-1.3 and -2.1 kg/d of dry matter for Tarentaise and Montbeliarde cows, respectively) and yielded less milk (-1.7 and -2.5 kg/d for Tarentaise and Montbeliarde cows, respectively) than did cows that did not walk daily. A residual effect of walking on milk yield was observed during the 10 d following the experimental period. For both breeds, fat content and, to a lesser extent, protein content were higher (+6.4 and +1.0 g/kg, respectively) for cows that walked. Somatic cell count was also higher for cows that walked (+115,000 cells/ml). This difference was more marked in cows that were initially infected by a minor or major pathogen (+185,000 cells/ml) than in uninfected cows (+47,000 cells/ml) and on the 1st d of walking when walking was linked to increases in pH, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobulin G1 contents of milk (+0.08 unit, +0.16 g/L, and +0.19 g/L, respectively). Throughout the experimental period, walking induced a rise in body temperature (+1 degree C) and in plasma nonesterified fatty acids (+0.63 mM/L). On the 1st d of walking, plasma glucose, lactic acid, and cortisol contents were significantly higher for cows that walked (+0.25 g/L, +0.64 g/L, and +28.8 ng/ml, respectively).

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