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Effect of gradual or abrupt cessation of milking at dry off on milk yield and somatic cell score in the subsequent lactation

Gott, P.N., Rajala-Schultz, P.J., Schuenemann, G.M., Proudfoot, K.L., Hogan, J.S.
Journal of dairy science 2017 v.100 no.3 pp. 2080-2089
Dairy Herd Improvement Associations, calving, cows, dairy herds, early lactation, farms, microbial culture, milk, milk yield, milking, models, somatic cells, Ohio
The objective of this study was to assess the effect of milk cessation method (abrupt or gradual) at dry off on milk yield and somatic cell score (SCS) up to 120 d in milk during the subsequent lactation. Data from 428 cows from 8 dairy herds in Ohio were analyzed. Abrupt cessation cows kept the farm's regular milking schedule (2 or 3 times) through dry off and gradual cessation cows were milked once daily for the final week of lactation. Milk yield and SCS were collected using Dairy Herd Improvement Association test-day records. Aseptic quarter milk samples were collected approximately 1 wk before dry off, at dry off, and within 1 wk after calving for bacterial culture to determine the presence of intramammary infections. Overall, milk cessation method was not significantly associated with either milk yield or SCS in early lactation; however, interaction between the milk cessation method and herd was highly significant. Cows producing greater amounts of milk around dry off had significantly higher SCS in the following lactation. Shorter dry periods were significantly associated with decreased milk yield in the following lactation, especially among abruptly dried off cows. Additionally, as expected, several other factors, such as parity of cows and stage of lactation, were significantly associated with both outcomes. No interactions between the milk cessation method and the other explanatory variables in the final models were significant. The results of the current study suggest that higher milk yield at dry off was associated with higher SCS in the following lactation, even though milk cessation method at the end of lactation had a varying effect on test-day milk yield and SCS in different herds during the first 120 d in milk in the following lactation. The specific herd characteristics influencing this could not be identified within this study, warranting further research.