Effects of dry period length on milk production, physiological responses and metabolic status of dairy cows exposed to heat stress during the transition period
The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a traditional dry period (60 d) versus a no dry period (0 d) on the milk production, physiological response, and metabolic status of dairy cows exposed to heat stress during the transition period. Holstein dairy cows (n = 15) with similar expected calving dates were randomly assigned to two different dry period lengths: (1) no dry period (n = 7) and (2) a traditional dry period of 60 days (n = 8). All cows were studied from 8 weeks before expected calving to 10 weeks after calving and experienced heat stress during the transition period. The results showed that cows with no dry period decreased their milk yield in subsequent lactation, but compensated for the loss of milk yield accounted for by additional milk yield before calving. The energy balance at postpartum was improved in cows with no dry period compared to cows with a traditional dry period. There were no significant differences in the physiological response and blood metabolites at postpartum between the dry period lengths of dairy cows exposed to heat stress during the transition period. Taken together, our results showed that omitting the dry period improved the milk production and metabolic status of dairy cows exposed to heat stress during the transition period.