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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Prepartum Milking on Production and Health of First Calf Heifers

Authors
item Daniels, K - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Donkin, S - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Eicher, Susan
item Pajor, E - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Schutz, M - PURDUE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 2007
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Transition heifers face multiple stressors around parturition, including first exposure to milking, that may decrease dry matter intake (DMI) and milk yield, compromise immune function and increase susceptibility to disease, resulting in compromised performance. Milking heifers beginning at 3 wk prior to calving may have some benefits in alleviating these stressors. This study shows that heifers milked 21 d prior to expected calving produced more milk, had better udder health, and consumed more feed for the first month after calving, although not enough to overcome negative energy balance. Results indicate that prepartum milking is an alternative management practice that has beneficial effects on the production, health and well-being of first calf heifers.

Technical Abstract: Transition heifers face multiple stressors around parturition, including first exposure to milking, that may decrease dry matter intake (DMI) and milk yield, compromise immune function, and increase susceptibility to disease. It was hypothesized that prepartum milking may dilute the stressors and improve the periparturient performance, health, and well-being of heifers. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of prepartum milking on production, DMI, body weight, and energy balance, along with udder health, calving parameters and acute phase proteins as an indicator of health status. Twenty-two primigravid heifers, blocked by expected calving date, were randomly assigned to either prepartum milking (PM) or control (CH) treatments. The PM heifers were milked twice daily beginning at 21 d before expected calving and CH heifers were not milked until after calving. All heifers had access to the same pre-calving and post-calving diets. Results indicate that PM heifers produced more milk (P<0.05) during the first two weeks after calving and increased DMI as a percentage of body weight (P<0.05) for the first month after calving, although not enough to overcome negative energy balance. The PM heifers also had decreased somatic cell counts (SCC) through the first month after calving (P<0.05) and lower average SCC scores over the course of the lactation (P<0.05), despite having more quarters with mastitis infection at calving with S. uberis. Further, PM heifers had less udder edema at the third milking post calving (P<0.05), and returned to lower circulating levels of haptoglobin in blood (P<0.05) more quickly than did CH heifers. These data indicate that prepartum milking is an alternative management practice that has beneficial effects on the production, health and well-being of first calf heifers.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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