Effects of length of dry period on yields of milk fat and protein, fertility and milk somatic cell score in the subsequent lactation of dairy cows
Kuhn, M.T.; L Hutchison, J.; Norman, H.D.
Journal of Dairy Research 73(2): 154-162
The objective was to utilize data from modern US dairy cattle to determine the effect of days dry on fat and protein yield, fat and protein percentages, days open, and somatic cell score in the subsequent lactation. Field data collected through the dairy herd improvement association from January 1997 to December 2003 and extracted from the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory national database were used for analysis. Actual lactation records calculated from test-day yields using the test-interval method were used in this study. The model for analyses included herd-year of calving, year-state-month of calving, previous lactation record, age at calving, and days dry as a categorical variable. Fat and protein yield was maximized in the subsequent lactation with a 60-d dry period. Dry periods of 20 d or less resulted in substantial losses in fat and protein yield in the subsequent lactation. In contrast to yields, a short dry period was beneficial for fat and protein percentages. Short dry periods also resulted in fewer days open in the subsequent lactation; however, this was entirely due to the lower milk yield associated with shortened dry period. When adjusted for milk yield, short dry periods actually resulted in poorer fertility in the subsequent lactation. Long days dry improved somatic cell score in the subsequent lactation. Herds with mastitis problems should be cautious in shortening days dry because short dry periods led to higher cell scores in the subsequent lactation compared with 60-d dry.