The effect of growth rate on reproductive outcomes in replacement dairy heifers in seasonally calving, pasture-based systems
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CitationC.J. Hayes, C.G. McAloon, C.I. Carty, E.G. Ryan, J.F. Mee, L. O'Grady, The effect of growth rate on reproductive outcomes in replacement dairy heifers in seasonally calving, pasture-based systems, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 102, Issue 6, 2019, Pages 5599-5611, ISSN 0022-0302, https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2018-16079.
AbstractThe effect of average daily gain (ADG) on reproductive outcomes in replacement dairy heifers was investigated. All heifers were managed in the typical Irish spring calving, pasture-based system, where the herd calves in 1 block between January and April and the majority of the diet comprises grazed grass. Heifer calves (n = 399) from 7 herds were weighed at birth and at the beginning of the breeding season, and ADG was calculated. Service dates and pregnancy diagnosis results were recorded, and conception dates were calculated. Days open (DO) was defined as the number of days between the beginning of the breeding season and conception. Genetic data were retrieved from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation database. A Cox proportional hazard model was constructed to identify variables with a significant effect on DO. An accelerated failure time model was used to predict survival curves and median survival times for different combinations of the significant variables. The ADG ranged from 0.41 to 0.91 kg/d, with a median of 0.70 kg/d. Frailty effect of farm within year, maintenance subindex of the economic breeding index, and ADG had a significant effect on DO. Derived from the final accelerated failure time model, the predicted median DO for a heifer with an ADG of 0.40, 0.70, or 0.90 kg/d aged 443 d at the beginning of the breeding season and with a maintenance subindex in the second tercile were 27, 16, and 11 d, respectively.
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