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.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the Fourth DairyCare Conference 2016|
|Publisher||DairyCare COST Action FA1308|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
|Event||Fourth DairyCare Conference - Lisbon, Portugal|
Duration: 13 Oct 2016 → 14 Oct 2016
|Conference||Fourth DairyCare Conference|
|Period||13/10/16 → 14/10/16|