Indexed on: 20 Apr '21Published on: 19 Apr '21Published in: Journal of Dairy Science
A 1-yr calving interval (CInt) is usually associated with maximized milk output, due to the calving-related peak in milk yield. Extending CInt could benefit cow health and production efficiency due to fewer transition periods per unit of time. Extending CInt can affect lactation performance by fewer days dry per year, delayed pregnancy effect on milk yield, and greater milk solid yield in late lactation. This study first investigated the effects of 3 different voluntary waiting periods (VWP) from calving until first insemination on body weight, body condition, milk yield, and lactation persistency. Second, individual cow characteristics in early lactation were identified that contributed to milk yield and persistency of cows with different VWP. Holstein-Friesian dairy cows (n = 154) within 1 herd were blocked for parity, calving season, and expected milk yield. Cows were randomly assigned within the blocks to 1 of 3 VWP (50, 125, or 200 d: VWP50, VWP125, or VWP200, respectively) and monitored through 1 complete lactation and the first 6 wk of the subsequent lactation, or until culling. Minimum and mean CInt (384 vs. 452 vs. 501 d for VWP50 vs. VWP125 vs. VWP200) increased with increasing VWP, but maximum CInt was equal for the 3 VWP. Fat- and protein-corrected milk yield (FPCM) was analyzed weekly. Milk yield and FPCM were also expressed per day of CInt, to compare yields of cows with different VWP. Persistency was determined between d 100 and d 200 of the lactation, as well as between d 100 and dry-off. Values are presented as least squares means ± standard error of the mean. During the first 44 wk of lactation, VWP did not affect FPCM yield in both primiparous and multiparous cows. The VWP did not affect milk yield per day of CInt. The VWP did not affect FPCM yield per day of calving interval for primiparous cows. Multiparous cows in VWP125 had FPCM yield per day of CInt similar to that of VWP50. Multiparous cows in VWP200 had lower FPCM yield per day of CInt compared with VWP50 (27.2 vs. 30.4 kg/d). During the last 6 wk before dry-off, cows in VWP125 had lower yield compared with cows in VWP50, which could benefit their udder health in the dry period and after calving. Persistency was better for cows in VWP200 compared with cows in VWP50 (-0.05 vs. -0.07 kg/d). Body weight was not different among VWP groups. Multiparous cows in VWP200 had a higher body condition score in the last 3 mo before dry-off and the first 6 wk of the next lactation, compared with multiparous cows in VWP125 and VWP50. The VWP could be extended from 50 d to 125 d without an effect on daily yield per day of calving interval. Extending VWP until 200 d for primiparous cows did not affect their daily milk yield, but multiparous cows with a 200-d VWP had a reduced milk yield per day of calving interval and an increased body condition in late lactation and the subsequent lactation, compared with multiparous cows with a 50-d VWP. Copyright © 2021 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.