Invited review: Cessation of lactation: Effects on animal welfare

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
G. Zobel, D. M. Weary, K. E. Leslie, M. A. G. von Keyserlingk
Journal of Dairy Science
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The forced cessation of milk production, or dry-off, is a routine management practice in dairy cattle, sheep, and goats. This practice initiates a dry period, during which the animal is not milked. Milking begins again after parturition. Most of the literature on the dry period has focused on how various drying-off strategies affect milk production and disease; little work to date has addressed how dry-off affects the overall welfare of the dairy animal. The first aim of this review was to present an overview of the importance of dry-off and how it is commonly achieved. Our review shows that much scientific progress has been made in improving health status between lactations. The second aim was to identify important gaps in the literature, of which 2 key research disparities have been identified. We find that much of the work to date has focused on cattle and very little research has examined dry-off in dairy sheep and goats. We also find a lack of research addressing how common dry-off methodologies affect animal welfare on more than just a biological level, regardless of species.


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