Karakterisering van vijftien melkveebedrijven die verkort of niet droogzetten
Dort, A.J. van
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Because many cows in current dairy farming experience a negative energy balance (NEB) post partum, alternative management procedures to minimize NEB are being searched for. One of these procedures could be shortening or omitting the dry period. This management strategy may be associated with several positive effects for the cow. Peak lactation post partum will be lower, but persistency should be higher, so the cow can provide her energy needs more easily. Positive effects on fertility are also described. Mainly, the interval between calving and becoming pregnant again is shortened and some other characteristics that are associated with this interval are also influenced positively. The composition of the milk is more favourable in cows that have a shortened or omitted dry period, than cows that have experienced a 6-8 week dry period. The percentage fat and protein is higher at the end of lactation and protein percentage is higher during the beginning of lactation. Negative effects of shortening or omitting the dry period are a loss of total production per cow per lactation. This loss of production can be as high as 40 % measured over one completed lactation. In addition, cows can experience more mastitis, because their udder cannot recover during the dry period. Furthermore, colostrum quality may be lowered by shortening or omitting the dry period. To evaluate the value of the management strategy shortening or omitting the dry period, Wageningen University is executing a research called ‘Why Dry’. Milk recordings of 15 dairy farmers, that are applying these management procedures at their farms, were collected. These recordings showed a large variation on different values. To discover the cause of this, a characterization of these dairy farms and working methods was being made. This characterization derived from a semi-structured interview with each farmer and a visit to every farm. These interviews show that participating farmers work very differently from each other. Despite the subjectivity of this research, a first insight of how dairy farmers manage their farm and the shortened or omitted dry period is being given. Most farmers are very satisfied with this management procedure. Shortening or omitting the dry period does have potential in sustainable dairy farming. However, this management strategy must suit the dairy farmer and his farm.