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Effect of a short dry period on milk yield and content, colostrum quality, fertility, and metabolic status of Holstein cows

  • Shoshani, E.
  • Rozen, S.
  • Doekes, J.J.1, 2
  • 1 Extension Service
  • 2 “Hachaklait,”
Published Article
Journal of Dairy Science
American Dairy Science Association
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Feb 05, 2014
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2013-7733


We evaluated the effect of shortening the dry period (DP) on milk and energy-corrected milk (ECM) yields, milk components, colostrum quality, metabolic status, and reproductive parameters. Primiparous (n = 372) and multiparous (n = 400) Israeli Holstein cows from 5 commercial dairy herds were subjected to a 60-d or 40-d DP. Cows within each herd were paired according to milk production, age, days in milk, and expected calving. Analysis of the data from all cows, irrespective of age, revealed significant differences in milk and ECM yields that favored the 60-d DP, with a prominent effect in 2 of 5 examined herds. In primiparous cows, milk and ECM yields were similar between groups in 4 of 5 farms. In multiparous cows undergoing a 60-d (vs. 40-d) DP, milk and ECM yields were higher in 3 herds. These differences could not be explained by milk and ECM yields in cows diagnosed with metritis, ketosis, and mastitis (defined by a somatic cell count threshold of 250,000 cell/mL), distribution of infected and noninfected cows, or new infections during DP and after calving. Including the milk and ECM yields from an average of 19.55 d from the previous lactation revealed higher milk and ECM yields for 40-d (vs. 60-d) DP cows in all herds. Analyzing 2 consecutive lactations revealed similar milk and ECM yields between groups in 4 out of 5 herds. In 1 herd, yields were higher in the 40-d compared with the 60-d DP group. One week after calving, the nonesterified fatty acid concentrations of 40-d DP cows were significantly lower than those of 60-d DP cows, indicating better postpartum energy balance. Colostrum quality, measured as IgG concentration, did not differ between the 2 DP groups. Cows assigned to 40-d DP had better reproductive performance, as reflected by fewer days to first insemination, a lower proportion with >90 d to first insemination, and fewer days to pregnancy. With respect to primiparous cows, a short DP increased conception rate after first artificial insemination and decreased the proportion of nonpregnant cows after 150 d in milk. In light of these findings, we suggest that a short DP be applied for its economic and physiological benefits. This is highly relevant to dairy herds located in regions such as Israel, Spain, and Florida that suffer from reduced milk production during the hot season.

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