Lowering the energy level in the ration at the beginning of lactation in cows that have not been dry improves fertility.
Researchers from the Tailor-Made Dry Stand project have reached this conclusion.
Cows that were not dry and were given a less energy-rich ration after calving had an interval between calving and gestation of 84 days. This interval was 114 days for cows that received a more energy-rich ration.
The smaller number of open days could be explained by both slightly fewer days after calving to initiate cyclicity and fewer inseminations until gestation at a lower energy level, compared to a normal energy level. In addition, cows with a low energy level after omitting the dry period had more normal cycles of 18 to 24 day length and fewer abnormal cycles. This improvement in fertility was especially visible in older calf cows (parity ≥ 3).
Better fertility with a low energy level
This better fertility for cows with a low energy level was unexpected because the cows at the lower energy level had a less positive energy balance, compared to cows with the normal energy level after the dry period was omitted.
The normal energy level after omitting the dry period, however, resulted in a very positive energy balance. The results of the current study suggest that not only a strong negative energy balance, but also a strong positive energy balance is not beneficial for fertility in older calf dairy cattle.
Custom dry period was part of the PPP Sustainable Dairy Chain and was financed by ZuivelNL and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
From January 2014 to May 2016, research was conducted at Dairy Campus, part of Wageningen University & Research (at that time still located in Lelystad) into the effects of lowering the energy level in food.
More information about this research can be found here in the full English-language article.
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