Aarhus University Seal

Guilherme Amorim Franchi

Effects of changes in diet energy density and milking frequency and a single injection of cabergoline at dry-off on feeding behavior and rumination time in dairy cows

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Dry-off is a typical management practice, but research on the effects of dry-off on feeding behavior in high-yielding cows is limited. The present study investigated the effects of 2 diet energy densities: lactation diet (normal energy density, NORM) versus a lactation diet diluted with 30% straw (reduced energy density, REDU), both offered ad libitum, and 2 daily milking frequencies (2× vs. 1×) during the 7 d before dry-off day (d 0), and the effects of an injection of either a dopamine agonist [cabergoline (CAB); Velactis, Ceva Santé Animale; labeled for use only with abrupt dry-off; i.e., no reduction in feeding level or milking frequency before the last milking] or saline (SAL) following the last milking on d 0 (2 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement), on automatically monitored feeding behavior and rumination time in 119 clinically healthy, loose-housed, pregnant, lactating Holstein cows during the week before and after d 0. From d 0, all cows were fed the same dry-cow diet ad libitum. Data were analyzed in R using mixed-effects models. Over the days before d 0, REDU cows spent 30% more time feeding at a 50% lower feeding rate, visited both assigned and unassigned feed bins more frequently, and spent more time ruminating than NORM cows. No clear behavioral effects of reduced milking frequency were found. Within 24 h following injection, CAB cows spent approximately 40% less time feeding at a lower feeding rate, visited their feed bin 28% less often, and spent 40% less time ruminating than SAL cows, irrespective of treatment before dry-off. The current study demonstrates that reducing diet energy density for 1 wk before dry-off led to clear behavioral changes in high-yielding cows. Administering CAB after the last milking induced decreased feeding behavior lasting approximately 24 h, indicating collateral effects other than reduced prolactin secretion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJDS Communications
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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