Effect of different dietary regimens at dry-off on performance, metabolism, and immune system in dairy cows.

Jermann, P M; Fritsche, D; Wagner, L A; Wellnitz, O; Bruckmaier, R M; Gross, J J (2022). Effect of different dietary regimens at dry-off on performance, metabolism, and immune system in dairy cows. Journal of dairy science, 105(5), pp. 4624-4642. American Dairy Science Association 10.3168/jds.2021-21747

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Concentrate withdrawal and feed restriction are commonly used to reduce milk production and to facilitate dry-off, but may impair immune function in dairy cows. We investigated the effect of feed rations providing different amounts of nutrients in combination with feed restriction on performance, endocrine, and metabolic responses, as well as on leukocyte function before and after abrupt dry-off. Forty-three cows were studied from d 12 before until d 6 after dry-off (56 d before scheduled calving). Cows were fed experimental concentrates rich in crude protein (nitrogenic, n = 14), glucogenic precursors (glucogenic, n = 14), or lipids (lipogenic, n = 15). On d 3 before dry-off, total feed allowance was restricted to 50% in half of the animals of each dietary group, whereas feed allowance remained unchanged in the other animals. Performance parameters (milk yield, milk composition, and dry matter intake) were recorded, and daily blood and milk samples were taken and analyzed for various metabolic and endocrine parameters. Additionally, activity and mRNA abundance of several genes in leukocytes were measured at selected time points before and after feed restriction and dry-off, respectively. Feed restriction immediately resulted in a negative energy balance and decreased milk production. Concomitantly, concentrations of nonesterified fatty acids increased, whereas insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, and glucagon decreased. After dry-off, energy balance turned positive and plasma nonesterified fatty acids decreased. Plasma glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1 concentrations increased in all groups after dry-off. Glucose, insulin, and glucagon concentrations in plasma were higher in nonrestricted compared with restricted animals after dry-off. The experimental concentrate types marginally affected the investigated metabolic and endocrine factors, with the exception of elevated milk and plasma urea concentrations in cows fed the nitrogenic concentrate. Chemotactic and phagocytic activity of leukocytes were not affected by diets, feed restriction, or dry-off. Likewise, blood leukocyte mRNA abundance encoding for tumor necrosis factor α (TNF), heat shock protein family A (HSP70), and the glucose transporters (GLUT) 1 and 3 remained unchanged throughout the study period. Overall, the short-term negative energy balance induced by feed restriction was temporarily accompanied by metabolic adaptations, but did not alter the studied factors related to the immune system. Metabolic and endocrine adaptations supporting milk synthesis were continued during the first days after dry-off despite cessation of milking. Thus, the abrupt dry-off resulted in a short-term increase of glucose and triglyceride concentrations, with a delayed endocrine response to re-establish nutrient homeostasis in blood.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Jermann, Pascaline Maria, Fritsche, Dominik, Wagner, Lea Alexandra, Wellnitz, Olga, Bruckmaier, Rupert, Gross, Josef Johann




American Dairy Science Association




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

23 Mar 2022 08:59

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:16

Publisher DOI:


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Uncontrolled Keywords:

diet composition dry-off feed restriction immune system metabolism





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