Changes in the genetic level and the effects of age at first calving and milk production on survival during the first lactation over the last 25 years

M.L. van Pelt*, G. de Jong, R.F. Veerkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Survival during the first year after first calving was investigated over the last 25 years, 1989–2013, as well as how the association of survival with season of calving, age at first calving (AFC) and within-herd production level has changed over that period. The data set contained 1 108 745 Dutch black-and-white cows in 2185 herds. Linear models were used to estimate (1) effect of year and season and their interaction and (2) effect of AFC, within-herd production level, and 5-year intervals and their two-way interactions, and the genetic trend. All models contained AFC and percentage of Holstein Friesian as a fixed effect, and herd-year-season, sire and maternal grandsire as random effects. Survival and functional survival were analysed. Functional survival was defined as survival adjusted for within-herd production level. Survival rate increased by 8% up to 92% in the last 25 years. When accounting for pedigree, survival showed no improvement up to 1999, but improved since then. Genetically, survival increased 3% to 4% but functional survival did not increase over the 25 years. We found an interesting difference between the genetic trends for survival and functional survival for bulls born between 1985 and 1999, where the trend for survival was still increasing, but was negative for functional survival. Since 1999, genetic trend picked up again for both survival and functional survival. AFC, season of calving and within-herd production level affected survival. Survival rate decreased 0.6%/month for survival and 1.5% for functional survival between AFC of 24 and 32 months. Calving in summer resulted in 2.0% higher survival than calving in winter. Within herd, low-producing cows had a lower survival rate than high-producing cows. However, these effects became less important during the recent years. Based on survival optimum AFC is around 24 months, but based on functional survival it is better to have an AFC

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2043-2050
JournalAnimal
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Keywords

  • age at first calving
  • dairy cattle
  • longevity
  • survival
  • within-herd production level

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