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Doctoral thesis, 2003

Extended calving interval and increased milking frequency

Österman, Sara


The general aim of the present work was to investigate the opportunities for a planned extended calving interval (CI) in dairy cattle, and how it would effect production and animal welfare. Furthermore, the effects of combining an extended calving interval with an increased milking frequency (MF) was evaluated. The milk production per cow has increased dramatically during recent decades. In thirty years average milk production per cow has increased by more than 3000 kg energy corrected milk (ECM), and the development towards still higher milk yields does not appear to be stopping. High milk yields in combination with a minimised CI results in high yields when drying off, problems at the onset of the lactation and bad utilisation of the milk production capacity of the cow. The current management methods for high producing cows also results in a short length of life and must be questioned, both from an ethical and economical point of view. In total, 72 cows of the Swedish Red and White Breed were introduced to the study, which lasted for three years. There was one conventional CI of 12 months, and one extended CI of 18 months, both of which were tested in combination with two different MF’s, 2x and 3x per day. The groups are referred to as 12-2, 12-3, 18-2 and 18-3. The results presented here show that cows with 18 months CI have as high production, expressed as ECM/day of calving interval, as cows with a 12 months CI and cows in group 18-3 had the highest ECM/day of CI of all groups. An extension of the CI resulted in better feed efficiency compared to the conventional system, and the contents of somatic cells were desirably low throughout the extended lactation. The primiparous cows maintained their production better than the multiparous cows, and an increased milking frequency may contribute to increased comfort in high producing dairy cows. A system with an extended CI, is a less intensive system with fewer risk periods for the cow, and therefore it would increase not only the production, but also the animal welfare and the lifetime of the cow.


dairy cows; parturition interval; milking; dry period; feed consumption; feed conversion efficiency; milk production; milk; quality; somatic cell count

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae. Agraria
2003, number: 383
ISBN: 91-576-6426-9
Publisher: Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management, Swedish Univ. of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Österman, Sara
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

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