Associations of postpartum lying time with culling, milk yield, cyclicity, and reproductive performance of lactating dairy cows.


Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210. Electronic address: [Email]


The objectives were to evaluate the associations of lying time (LT) during the first 14 d in milk (DIM) with milk yield, cyclicity (CYC), culling within 60 DIM (CULL), and reproductive performance of lactating dairy cows. A total of 1,052 Holstein cattle (401 nulliparous heifers and 651 parous cows) from 3 commercial dairy farms had electronic data loggers (IceQube, IceRobotics, Edinburgh, UK) placed on a hind leg 14 ± 3 d before the expected parturition date and removed at 14 ± 3 DIM to assess their LT. Serum concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate were determined at 7 ± 3 and 14 ± 3 DIM. Cases of retained placenta, metritis, mastitis, pneumonia, and digestive disorders within 30 DIM were recorded and lactating cows were categorized into 1 of 4 groups: (1) nondiseased (ND, n = 613; cows without ketosis or any other diagnosed health condition); (2) cows with only ketosis (KET, n = 152); (3) sick cows experiencing ≥1 health conditions but without ketosis (SICK, n = 198); or (4) cows with ketosis plus ≥1 health condition (KET+, n = 61). Ultrasound was performed at 28 ± 3 and 42 ± 3 DIM to assess ovarian cyclicity (presence or absence of corpus luteum). Milk yield at first Dairy Herd Improvement Association test was not associated with LT during the first 14 DIM, but it was negatively correlated with the coefficient of variation of LT during the first 14 DIM. Lactating dairy cows experiencing KET+ had the lowest milk yield compared with ND, regardless of parity. Parity, health status, and season were significantly associated with CYC and CULL. Lying time had a significantly linear association with the risk of being culled: for every 1-h increment of LT during 0 to 14 DIM, the risk of culling within 60 DIM increased by 1 percentage point. Lying time had a negative quadratic association with cyclicity at 42 DIM. Multiparous cows with a LT of 9 to 13 h/d had a significantly greater probability of pregnancy up to 300 DIM compared with cows with a LT >13 h/d. Regardless of parity, KET+ cows had significantly higher proportion of culling within 60 DIM and decreased probability of pregnancy up to 300 DIM compared with ND cows. These findings suggest that there is an optimum daily LT range for early postpartum cows housed in freestall barns, different from that reported for mid-lactation cows, with the potential for improved survival, health, and the overall performance (milk yield and reproduction).


dairy cattle,lying time,milk yield,reproduction,

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