0.75 kg/d up to 15 months and good heifer fertility and resulted in the best subsequent performance." /> 0.75 kg/d up to 15 months and good heifer fertility and resulted in the best subsequent performance." /> Association between growth rates, age at first calving and subsequent fertility, milk production and survival in Holstein-Friesian heifers
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 OJAS  Vol.3 No.1 , January 2013
Association between growth rates, age at first calving and subsequent fertility, milk production and survival in Holstein-Friesian heifers
Abstract: Age at first calving (AFC) affects the profitability of dairy enterprises. This study examined the relationships between AFC and subsequent fertility, milk production and survival up to third calving in UK Holstein-Friesian heifers; Study 1 comprised 134 consecutively born heifers from the same herd (AFC 764 ± 8 days) and Study 2 contained 445 heifers born on 17 farms (AFC 796 ± 6 days). Growth rates and fertility during rearing were monitored and animals were subsequently divided into four AFC groups for analysis: <23 months, 23 - 25 months, 26 - 30 months and >30 months. The actual AFC reflected both growth rate and heifer fertility, with later calving heifers already lighter by 6 months of age. The proportion conceiving to first service was highest (93% and 84% for Studies 1 and 2, respectively) for the youngest AFC group. Fertility in the first lactation was best in cows calving at 23 - 25 months and worst in the oldest AFC group. Milk production parameters in the first and second lactations were broadly similar between AFC groups but significantly more heifers with an AFC < 26 months calved for a third time. These younger calving animals therefore achieved more days in milk over 5 years, with >44% of their days alive spent in milk production compared with only 18% - 40% in cows calving at ≥26 months. Hence cows with an AFC < 26 months produced the most milk in their first 5 years of life. These results indicate that an AFC of <26 months="" required="" both="" a="" growth="" rate="">0.75 kg/d up to 15 months and good heifer fertility and resulted in the best subsequent performance.
Cite this paper: Cooke, J. , Cheng, Z. , Bourne, N. and Wathes, D. (2013) Association between growth rates, age at first calving and subsequent fertility, milk production and survival in Holstein-Friesian heifers. Open Journal of Animal Sciences, 3, 1-12. doi: 10.4236/ojas.2013.31001.
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