Journal of dairy science

Overstocking dairy cows during the dry period affects dehydroepiandrosterone and cortisol secretion.

PMID 27837985


Stressful situations trigger several changes such as the secretion of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) from the adrenal cortex, in response to ACTH. The aim of this study was to verify whether overstocking during the dry period (from 21±3 d to the expected calving until calving) affects DHEA and cortisol secretion and behavior in Holstein Friesian cows. Twenty-eight cows were randomly divided into 2 groups (14 animals each), balanced for the number of lactations, body condition score, and expected date of calving. Cows in the far-off phase of the dry period (from 60 to 21 d before the expected calving date) were housed together in a bedded pack. Then, animals from 21±3 d before the expected calving until calving were housed in pens with the same size but under different crowding conditions due to the introduction of heifers (interference animals) into the pen. The control condition (CTR) had 2 animals per pen with 12.0m