• Body condition score and live-weight effects on milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Allied Irish Bank; Artificial Insemination Managers Association;; Holstein-Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust; European Union (Cambridge University Press, 2007-10)
      The objective of the present study was to quantify the relationships among body condition score (BCS; scale 1 to 5), live weight (WT) and milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian spring calving dairy cows. Data were from 66 commercial dairy herds during the years 1999 and 2000. The data consisted of up to 9886 lactations with records for BCS or WT at least once pre-calving, or at calving, nadir or 60 days post-calving. Change in BCS and WT was also calculated between time periods. Mixed models with cow included as a random effect were used to quantify the effect of BCS and WT, as well as change in each trait, on milk yield, milk fat concentration and milk protein concentration. Significant and sometimes curvilinear associations were observed among BCS at calving or nadir and milk production. Total 305-day milk yield was greatest in cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units. However, cows calving at a BCS of 3.50 units produced only 68 kg less milk than cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units while cows calving at 3.25 or 3.00 BCS units produced a further 50 and 114 kg less, respectively. Cows that lost more condition in early lactation produced more milk of greater fat and protein concentration, although the trend reversed in cows that lost large amounts of condition post-calving. Milk yield increased with WT although the marginal effect decreased as cows got heavier. Milk fat and protein concentration in early lactation also increased with WT pre-calving, calving and nadir, although WT did not significantly affect average lactation milk fat concentration.
    • Genetic relationships among linear type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count in primiparous dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Evans, R. D.; Veerkamp, Roel F.; Allied Irish Bank; AI Managers Association; Holstein-Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Phenotypic and genetic (co)variances among type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count were estimated. The data analysed included 3,058 primiparous spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows from 80 farms throughout the south of Ireland. Heritability estimates for the type traits varied from 0.11 to 0.43. Genetic correlations among some type traits were very strong and may indicate the possibility of reducing the number of traits assessed on each animal; the genetic correlation between angularity and body condition score was –0.84. Genetic correlations between all type traits (except body condition score, udder depth and teat length) and milk yield were positive and ranged from 0.08 to 0.69. The possibility of selecting for body weight may be achievable within a national progeny-testing programme using type traits within a selection index. Moderate to strong genetic correlations existed between some type traits and the various fertility measures and somatic cell count indicating the opportunity of indirect selection for improved fertility and health of animals using type traits within a selection index; however, the standard errors of some of the genetic correlations were large and should thus be treated with caution. Genetically taller, wider, deeper, more angular cows with tighter, stronger, shallower udders were predisposed to have inferior pregnancy rates to first service and require more services.
    • Relationships Among Milk Yield, Body Condition, Cow Weight, and Reproduction in Spring-Calved Holstein-Friesians

      Buckley, Frank; O'Sullivan, K.; Mee, John F; Evans, R.D.; Dillon, Pat; Allied Irish Bank; Holstein UK and Ireland; National AI Co-Ops; Irish Dairy Devy (Elsevier, 2003-07)
      Relationships among milk production, body condition score (BCS), body weight (BW), and reproduction were studied using logistic regression on data from 6433 spring-calving Holstein-Friesian dairy cows in 74 commercial herds. Multivariate models were adjusted for herd, breeding value for milk yield, proportion of Holstein-Friesian genes, lactation number, calving period, and degree of calving assistance. Significant associations between reproductive measures and components of energy balance were identified. Higher 200-d milk protein content and higher protein-to-fat ratio at start of breeding were associated with increased likelihood of submission for breeding in the first 21 d of the breeding season (SR21). High 100-d cumulative milk yield as a proportion of estimated 305-d milk yield (low persistency) was associated with a lower likelihood of pregnancy to first service (PREG1), whereas cows reaching peak milk yields earlier tended to have higher PREG1. Cows that reached nadir milk protein content relatively late in lactation had lower PREG1. Milk yield at first service and 305-d milk protein content were positively associated with the likelihood of pregnancy after 42 d of breeding (PR42). Higher 305-d milk lactose content was associated with increased PREG1 and PR42. Mean BCS at 60 to 100 d of lactation was positively associated with both SR21 and PR42, whereas nadir BCS was positively associated with PREG1. Cows with precalving BCS > 3.0 that also lost > 0.5 BCS unit by first service had lower PR42. More BW gain for 90 d after start of breeding was associated with higher SR21 and PREG1; more BW gain for 90 d after first service was associated with higher PR42. Milk protein and lactose content, BCS, and BW changes are important tools to identify cows at risk of poor reproduction.