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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Short communication: Influence of shortening the dry period of Swedish dairy cows on plasmin activity in milk

De Vries, Ruben; Lundh, Åse; Holtenius, Kjell; Hettinga, Kasper; Johansson, Monika


The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of shortening the dry period of Swedish dairy cows on plasmin activity and casein composition in milk. Swedish Holstein and Swedish Red cows, 45 in total, were assigned to a dry period of either 4 or 8 wk. Milk samples were taken 10 and 5 wk prepartum, and 6 and 12 wk postpartum. Plasmin activity and plasminogen activity were measured with a spectrophotometric assay. Casein composition was measured by capillary zone electrophoresis. Prepartum plasminogen activity increased by 22% between 10 and 5 wk prepartum, whereas no change in plasmin activity was observed during the same period. Cows with a 4-wk dry period had 61% higher plasmin activity in postpartum milk than cows with an 8-wk dry period. Cows of third or greater parity tended to have a stronger increase in plasmin activity as a result of applying a short dry period than cows of second parity. Although the alpha(S1)- and beta-casein fractions declined with increasing plasmin activity, no dry period effects were found. Based on postpartum differences in plasmin activity, it was concluded that particularly multiparous cows require more than 4 wk between lactations for recovery of the mammary epithelium. Changes in casein composition as an effect of plasmin activity are not expected to have a great effect on processing quality of milk, although future work is needed to verify this.


dairy cow; dry period; milk quality; plasmin activity; casein composition

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2016, Volume: 99, number: 11, pages: 9300-9306