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      First-calving age and first-lactation milk production on Dutch dairy farms

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          Abstract

          Farmers attempting to reduce first-calving age (FCA) need to understand which rearing management factors influence FCA and first-lactation milk production (FLP). Reduced FCA might be associated with lower FLP. This study describes the association between herd FCA, FLP, and several herd-level health and rearing management variables and describes the association between FCA and FLP at the cow level. It uses data from a 2010 survey of 100 Dutch dairy farms about general management, colostrum and milk feeding, housing, cleanliness, healthcare, disease, and breeding. It also used available data on FCA and 305-d FLP at both cow and herd level. The associations between median FCA and median FLP of the herd and herd-level health and rearing management variables were determined using multivariate regression analysis. The median FCA was associated with minimum age of first insemination, feeding of waste milk, and the amount of milk given preweaning. The median FLP was associated with median FCA and vaccination status for bovine respiratory syncytial virus. The association between FCA and FLP (based on 8,454 heifers) was analyzed with a single-effect linear mixed model, where the dependent variable was either FCA or relative FCA (defined as the difference between FCA of the heifer and median FCA of the herd to which they belonged). Heifers having an FCA of 24 mo produced, on average, 7,164 kg of milk per 305 d, and calving 1 mo earlier gave 143 kg less milk per 305 d. When FCA did not deviate from the median herd FCA, heifers produced, on average, 7,272 kg of milk per 305 d. From the median FCA of the herd, heifers calving 1 mo earlier produced 90 kg of milk per 305 d less, and heifers calving 1 mo later produced 86 kg per 305 d more. This is the first study that explained FLP using relative FCA. It assumes that heifers raised within the same farm have similar development because they are similarly managed. Similar management is reflected by the median FCA of the herd, with a deviation of the heifer’s FCA from median FCA reflecting the heifer’s development relative to the herd’s average. The advantage of using relative FCA was that it accounts for between-farm differences in rearing management. It showed that earlier insemination without adjusting management to ensure sufficient development lowers FLP. An economic optimum exists between rearing costs, FCA, and FLP and, as a consequence, decisions with regard to young stock management should be made with care.

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          A survey of dairy calf management practices in Canada that affect animal welfare.

          There is growing interest among the public in farm animal welfare and a need for methods to assess animal welfare on farm. A survey on calf rearing practices that might affect dairy calf welfare was performed via a 1-h interview on 115 dairy farms (mean +/- SD: herd size=52.5+/-20.9 cows; milk production=8,697+/-1,153L) distributed throughout the province of Quebec. Despite frequent recommendations, many dairy producers continue to use management practices that increase the health risks of milk-fed calves. Major risk factors for poor calf welfare identified were 1) no use of calving pen in 51.3% of herds and low level of surveillance of calvings, especially at nighttime (once every 12h), 2) no disinfection of newborn's navel in 36.8% of herds, and delayed identification and, hence, calf monitoring (3 d), 3) 15.6% of farms relied on the dam to provide colostrum and none checked colostrum quality or passive transfer of immunity, 4) dehorning and removal of extra teats proceeded at late ages (6.4 wk and 6.7 mo, respectively) and without adequate pain control, 5) use of traditional restrictive milk feeding and waste milk distributed to unweaned calves without precaution in 48.2% of herds, 6) abrupt weaning performed in 16.5% of herds, and 7) calves housed individually in 87.9% of herds, and most inappropriate housing systems (crate=27.0%, tie-stall=13.9%, attached against a wall=5.7%) remained. This risk factor assessment was the first step in an intervention strategy to improve calf welfare on dairy farms.
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            Costs of mastitis: facts and perception.

            A model to calculate the economic losses of mastitis on an average Dutch dairy farm was developed and used as base for a tool for farmers and advisors to calculate farm-specific economic losses of mastitis. The economic losses of a clinical case in a default situation were calculated as euro210, varying from euro164 to euro235 depending on the month of lactation. The total economic losses of mastitis (subclinical and clinical) per cow present in a default situation varied between euro65 and euro182/cow per year depending on the bulk tank somatic cell count. The tool was used to measure perception of the total economic losses of mastitis on the farm and the farmers' assessment of the cost factors of mastitis on 78 dairy farms, of which 64 were used for further analyses. Most farmers (72%) expected their economic losses to be lower than those revealed by our calculation made with their farm information. Underestimating the economic losses of mastitis can be regarded as a general problem in the dairy sector. The average economic losses assessed by the farmers were euro78/cow per year, but a large variation was given, euro17-198/cow per year. Although the average assessment of the farmers of the different cost factors is close to the default value, there is much variation. To improve the adoption rate of advice and lower the incidence of mastitis, it is important to show the farmers the economic losses of mastitis on their farm. The tool described in this paper can play a role in that process.
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              Effect of intensified feeding of heifer calves on growth, pubertal age, calving age, milk yield, and economics.

              The objective of this study was to determine if increasing the energy and protein intake of heifer calves would affect growth rates, age at puberty, age at calving, and first lactation milk yield. A second objective was to perform an economic analysis of this feeding program using feed costs, number of nonproductive days, and milk yield data. Holstein heifer calves born at the Michigan State Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 dietary treatments (n=40/treatment) that continued from 2 d of age until weaning at 42 d of age. The conventional diet consisted of a standard milk replacer [21.5% crude protein (CP), 21.5% fat] fed at 1.2% of body weight (BW) on a dry matter basis and starter grain (19.9% CP) to attain 0.45 kg of daily gain. The intensive diet consisted of a high-protein milk replacer (30.6% CP, 16.1% fat) fed at 2.1% of BW on a dry matter basis and starter grain (24.3% CP) to achieve 0.68 kg of daily gain. Calves were gradually weaned from milk replacer by decreasing the amount offered for 5 and 12 d before weaning for the conventional and intensive diets, respectively. All calves were completely weaned at 42 d of age and kept in hutches to monitor individual starter consumption in the early postweaning period. Starting from 8 wk of age, heifers on both treatments were fed and managed similarly for the duration of the study. Body weight and skeletal measurements were taken weekly until 8 wk of age, and once every 4 wk thereafter until calving. Calves consuming the intensive diet were heavier, taller, and wider at weaning. The difference in withers height and hip width was carried over into the early post-weaning period, but a BW difference was no longer evident by 12 wk of age. Calves fed the intensive diet were younger and lighter at the onset of puberty. Heifers fed the high-energy and protein diet were 15 d younger at conception and 14 d younger at calving than heifers fed the conventional diet. Body weight after calving, daily gain during gestation, withers height at calving, body condition score at calving, calving difficulty score, and calf BW were not different. Energy-corrected, age-uncorrected 305-d milk yield was not different, averaging 9,778 kg and 10,069 kg for heifers fed the conventional and intensive diets, respectively. However, removing genetic variation in milk using parent average values as a covariate resulted in a tendency for greater milk from heifers fed the intensive diet. Preweaning costs were higher for heifers fed the intensive diet. However, total costs measured through first lactation were not different. Intensified feeding of calves can be used to decrease age at first calving without negatively affecting milk yield or economics. Copyright © 2011 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Dairy Sci
                J. Dairy Sci
                Journal of Dairy Science
                American Dairy Science Association
                0022-0302
                1525-3198
                6 December 2012
                February 2013
                6 December 2012
                : 96
                : 2
                : 981-992
                Affiliations
                [* ]Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, PO Box 80151, 3508 TD, the Netherlands
                []Department of Preclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
                []Business Economics Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 8130, 6706 KN, Wageningen, the Netherlands
                Author notes
                [1 ]Corresponding author: N.B.MohdNor@ 123456uu.nl
                Article
                S0022-0302(12)00885-5
                10.3168/jds.2012-5741
                7094526
                23219115
                4667325d-c566-4f42-ac8c-2c1e2890d6c3
                Copyright © 2013 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Categories
                Article

                first-calving age,milk production at first lactation,dairy heifer,rearing management

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