Reduced milking frequency causes milk to accumulate in the udder. Some studies indicate that this also decreases lying behavior, which is an important indicator of the health and well-being of dairy cattle.
What are the implications for dry cows? To find out, researchers at The Ohio State University evaluated the effect of abrupt cessation of milking at dry off on cow lying behavior.
During the study, the researchers used activity sensors to track steps taken, standing and lying times, and number of lying bouts.
Cow activity increased in the three herds involved in the study after dry-off, which indicates a decrease in lying behavior, according to study results reported in the 2012 NMC Annual Meeting Proceedings.
The researchers say that behavioral patterns varied between the herds. For example, cows in one of the herds had significantly shorter, but more, lying bouts when milking frequency was abruptly reduced. However, cows in the other two herds had significantly shorter lying bouts without increasing the number of lying bouts.
“Regardless of the pattern, cows in all three herds spent less time lying during the first 5 days after dry-off than before dry-off,” say the researchers.
Source: NMC Annual Meeting Proceedings (2012)