Consequences of dietary energy source and energy level on energy balance, lactogenic hormones, and lactation curve characteristics of cows after a short or omitted dry period

R J van Hoeij, J Dijkstra, R.M. Bruckmaier, James J Gross, T J G M Lam, G J Remmelink, B. Kemp, A.T.M. Knegsel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Omitting the dry period (DP) generally reduces milk production in the subsequent lactation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of dietary energy source-glucogenic (G) or lipogenic (L)-and energy level-standard (std) or low-on milk production; energy balance (EB); lactogenic hormones insulin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and growth hormone (GH); and lactation curve characteristics between wk 1 and 44 postpartum in cows after a 0-d or 30-d DP. Cows (n = 110) were assigned randomly to 3 transition treatments: a 30-d DP with a standard energy level required for expected milk yield [30-d DP(std)], a 0-d DP with the same energy level as cows with a 30-d DP [0-d DP(std)], and a 0-d DP with a low energy level [0-d DP(low)]. In wk 1 to 7, cows were fed the same basal ration but the level of concentrate increased to 6.7 kg/d for cows fed the low energy level and to 8.5 kg/d for cows fed the standard energy level in wk 4. From wk 8 postpartum onward, cows received a G ration (mainly consisting of corn silage and grass silage) or an L ration (mainly consisting of grass silage and sugar beet pulp) with the same energy level contrast (low or std) as in early lactation. Cows fed the G ration had greater milk, lactose, and protein yields, lower milk fat percentage, greater dry matter and energy intakes, and greater plasma IGF-1 concentration compared with cows fed the L ration. Dietary energy source did not affect EB or lactation curve characteristics. In cows with a 0-d DP, the reduced energy level decreased energy intake, EB, and weekly body weight gain, but did not affect milk production or lactation curve characteristics. A 30-d DP resulted in a greater total predicted lactation yield, initial milk yield after calving, peak milk yield, energy intake, energy output in milk, days to conception [only when compared with 0-d DP(low)], plasma GH concentration [only when compared with 0-d DP(std)], and decreased weekly body weight gain compared with a 0-d DP. A 30-d DP decreased both the increasing and the declining slope parameters of the lactation curve and the relative rate of decline in milk yield (indicating greater lactation persistency) compared with a 0-d DP, and decreased plasma insulin and IGF-1 concentration, and EB. In conclusion, feeding a G ration after wk 7 in milk improved energy intake and milk production, but did not affect EB compared with an L ration. For cows without a DP, a reduced dietary energy level did not affect milk production and lactation curve characteristics, but did decrease EB and weekly body weight gain. A 30-d DP increased milk yield and lactation persistency, but decreased milk fat and protein content, EB, and plasma insulin and IGF-1, compared with a 0-d DP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8544-8564
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • continuous milking
  • persistency
  • body condition
  • metabolic status


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