Effects of continuous milking during the dry period or once daily milking in the first 4 weeks of lactation on metabolism and productivity of dairy cows

G Schlamberger, S Wiedemann, E Viturro, H H D Meyer, M Kaske
Journal of Dairy Science 2010, 93 (6): 2471-85
The objective was to compare the effects of 3 management systems in high-yielding dairy cows on metabolic profiles and milk production. Thirty-six multiparous Brown Swiss cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups (n=12 cows/group): the control (C) group, in which cows were dried off 56 d before calving and milked twice daily throughout next lactation (305 d); the once daily milking (ODM) group, in which cows were dried off 56 d before calving and milked once daily for the first 4 wk of lactation and twice daily for the remaining lactation; and the continuous milking (CM) group, in which cows were milked twice daily until calving and also during the subsequent lactation. Serum glucose concentrations decreased between wk 1 and 4 exclusively in C cows. Serum concentrations of NEFA and BHBA in the first 4 wk of lactation were highest in C cows compared with ODM and CM cows. Decreased backfat thickness during early lactation and reduction of body condition score were markedly more pronounced in C cows compared with ODM and CM cows. Mean lactational milk yield of C cows [11,310+/-601 kg of energy-corrected milk (ECM)/305 d] was approximately 16% higher compared with ODM cows (9,531+/-477 kg of ECM/305 d) and CM cows (9,447+/-310 kg of ECM/305 d). The lactation curve of CM cows compared with C cows was characterized by a similar time of peak yield (wk 3), a reduced peak yield, and no obvious differences in persistency. Mean percentage of milk protein was significantly higher for CM cows (3.91%) compared with C cows (3.52%). In contrast, once daily milking was accompanied by a reduced and significantly delayed peak yield (wk 8) compared with the control treatment, whereas persistency was better and milk protein (3.79%) was higher in ODM cows than in C cows. In conclusion, continuous milking and once daily milking, targeting the interval before or after calving, respectively, substantially reduced the metabolic challenge of fresh cows and improved milk protein percentage. Continuous milking and once daily milking increased milk protein percentage markedly; furthermore, once daily milking during the first 4 wk of lactation improved the lactation curve.

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