Effects of omission of the dry period on behaviour of dairy cows

A. Kok, R.J. van Hoeij, B.J. Tolkamp, M.J. Haskell, A.T.M. van Knegsel, I.J.M. de Boer, E.A.M. Bokkers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

Reducing the changes in management in the period around calving could facilitate adaptation to lactation and might thereby increase the longevity of dairy cows. More constant management for dairy cows can be achieved by omitting the dry period. This would not require drying off, group changes and ration changes in late gestation, as opposed to conventional dry period management. In addition, cows with no dry period have a lower milk yield and improved energy balance after calving. It is unknown, however, how behaviour of dairy cows in late gestation and early lactation is affected by omitting the dry period. We studied the effects of a dry period (of 30 days; n=28 cows) and no dry period (n=53 cows) on feeding, lying, and walking of dairy cows in late gestation and early lactation. This data was collected using computerized feeders and accelerometers. All cows were housed in a free stall with slatted floor and cubicles. Effects of dry period and timing (before vs. after calving) on behaviours were analysed with mixed models; associations between energy balance and behaviours were analysed with Pearson correlations. Before calving, cows with no dry period had a higher feed intake, but a shorter daily feeding time than cows with a dry period. Cows with no dry period spent less time lying than cows with a short dry period (12.6 vs. 13.7 h/d, P < 0.05), and they walked more (1134 vs. 661 steps/d; P < 0.05). After calving, cows with no dry period spent more time lying than cows with a dry period (11.6 vs. 10.7 h/d, P < 0.05). Cows with no dry period also had a higher feed intake after calving than cows with a dry period (P < 0.05); feeding duration and walking did not differ. Daily lying time was positively correlated with energy balance (r: 0.28, P < 0.05) at 4 weeks in milk, but not correlated with daily feeding time. No dry period, as compared with a dry period, resulted in smaller changes in behaviour between late gestation and early lactation, which could facilitate adaptation to the next lactation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Fourth DairyCare Conference 2016
PublisherDairyCare COST Action FA1308
Pages14
ISBN (Print)9780993017643
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventFourth DairyCare Conference - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 13 Oct 201614 Oct 2016

Conference

ConferenceFourth DairyCare Conference
CountryPortugal
CityLisbon
Period13/10/1614/10/16

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