Between-herd variation in resilience and relations to herd performance

M. Poppe*, H.A. Mulder, C. Kamphuis, R.F. Veerkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Resilient cows are minimally affected in their functioning by infections and other disturbances, and recover quickly. Herd management is expected to have an effect on disturbances and the resilience of cows, and this effect was investigated in this study. Two resilience indicators were first recorded on individual cows. The effect of herd-year on these resilience indicators was then estimated and corrected for genetic and year-season effects. The 2 resilience indicators were the variance and the lag-1 autocorrelation of daily milk yield deviations from an expected lactation curve. Low variance and autocorrelation indicate that a cow does not fluctuate much around her expected milk yield and is, thus, subject to few disturbances, or little affected by disturbances (resilient). The herd-year estimates of the resilience indicators were estimated for 9,917 herd-year classes based on records of 227,655 primiparous cows from 2,644 herds. The herd-year estimates of the resilience indicators were then related to herd performance variables. Large differences in the herd-year estimates of the 2 resilience indicators (variance and autocorrelation) were observed between herd-years, indicating an effect of management on these traits. Furthermore, herd-year classes with a high variance tended to have a high proportion of cows with a rumen acidosis indication (r = 0.31), high SCS (r = 0.19), low fat content (r = −0.18), long calving interval (r = 0.14), low survival to second lactation (r = −0.13), large herd size (r = 0.12), low lactose content (r = −0.12), and high production (r = 0.10). These correlations support that herds with high variance are not resilient. The correlation between the variance and the proportion of cows with a rumen acidosis indication suggests that feed management may have an important effect on the variance. Herd-year classes with a high autocorrelation tended to have a high proportion of cows with a ketosis indication (r = 0.14) and a high production (r = 0.13), but a low somatic cell score (r = −0.17) and a low proportion of cows with a rumen acidosis indication (r = −0.12). These correlations suggest that high autocorrelation at herd level indicates either good or poor resilience, and is thus a poor resilience indicator. However, the combination of a high variance and a high autocorrelation is expected to indicate many fluctuations with slow recovery. In conclusion, herd management, in particular feed management, seems to affect herd resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-627
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume104
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • automatic milking system
  • dairy cow
  • management
  • resilience
  • variance

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