Short communication: Survival, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility of live-born dairy heifers after a difficult birth

AC Barrier, CM Dwyer, AI MacRae, MJ Haskell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The experience of a difficult birth (dystocia) is traumatic and has adverse effects on the newborn in various species. Despite affecting up to 1 in 3 births in dairy cattle, studies on calves have been mostly limited to the first day of life. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of dystocia on the survival to calving, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility as nulliparous animals. Historical data from live-born Holstein heifer calves born from cows with various birth difficulty scores (no assistance; moderate; high difficulty) were obtained from 2 herds (Edinburgh herd: n = 1,237; Crichton Royal Farm herd: n = 721). Each herd was analyzed separately for birth weights, weaning weights, growth rate to weaning, number of services to conception, and age at first calving using REML and generalized linear mixed model analyses. Survival analysis (Cox proportional hazards model) was used in the Edinburgh herd to analyze the subsequent survival of live-born heifers, whereas descriptive data are presented for the Crichton Royal Farm herd. A higher mortality risk to weaning and to first service was observed in the live-born heifers that experienced moderate difficulty at birth compared with heifers born naturally. Surviving dystocial heifers had similar growth-to-weaning and fertility performance as heifers born naturally in both herds. It could be that the performance of dystocial heifers that survived to weaning was not affected or that it was compensated for by farm management. This study highlights long-term effects of the early experience of a difficult birth and thereby stresses the importance of preventing dystocia not just from the point of view of the adult cow, but also from the perspective of the calf. This would also improve farm efficiency and calf welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6750 - 6754
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume95
Publication statusFirst published - 2012

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dairy heifers
weaning
herds
heifers
dystocia
calves
calving
cows
farms
weaning weight
birth weight
neonates
adverse effects
animals

Keywords

  • Calving ease
  • Dairy calf
  • Dystocia
  • Heifer

Cite this

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title = "Short communication: Survival, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility of live-born dairy heifers after a difficult birth",
abstract = "The experience of a difficult birth (dystocia) is traumatic and has adverse effects on the newborn in various species. Despite affecting up to 1 in 3 births in dairy cattle, studies on calves have been mostly limited to the first day of life. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of dystocia on the survival to calving, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility as nulliparous animals. Historical data from live-born Holstein heifer calves born from cows with various birth difficulty scores (no assistance; moderate; high difficulty) were obtained from 2 herds (Edinburgh herd: n = 1,237; Crichton Royal Farm herd: n = 721). Each herd was analyzed separately for birth weights, weaning weights, growth rate to weaning, number of services to conception, and age at first calving using REML and generalized linear mixed model analyses. Survival analysis (Cox proportional hazards model) was used in the Edinburgh herd to analyze the subsequent survival of live-born heifers, whereas descriptive data are presented for the Crichton Royal Farm herd. A higher mortality risk to weaning and to first service was observed in the live-born heifers that experienced moderate difficulty at birth compared with heifers born naturally. Surviving dystocial heifers had similar growth-to-weaning and fertility performance as heifers born naturally in both herds. It could be that the performance of dystocial heifers that survived to weaning was not affected or that it was compensated for by farm management. This study highlights long-term effects of the early experience of a difficult birth and thereby stresses the importance of preventing dystocia not just from the point of view of the adult cow, but also from the perspective of the calf. This would also improve farm efficiency and calf welfare.",
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Short communication: Survival, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility of live-born dairy heifers after a difficult birth. / Barrier, AC; Dwyer, CM; MacRae, AI; Haskell, MJ.

In: Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 95, 2012, p. 6750 - 6754.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Short communication: Survival, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility of live-born dairy heifers after a difficult birth

AU - Barrier, AC

AU - Dwyer, CM

AU - MacRae, AI

AU - Haskell, MJ

PY - 2012

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AB - The experience of a difficult birth (dystocia) is traumatic and has adverse effects on the newborn in various species. Despite affecting up to 1 in 3 births in dairy cattle, studies on calves have been mostly limited to the first day of life. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of dystocia on the survival to calving, growth to weaning, and subsequent fertility as nulliparous animals. Historical data from live-born Holstein heifer calves born from cows with various birth difficulty scores (no assistance; moderate; high difficulty) were obtained from 2 herds (Edinburgh herd: n = 1,237; Crichton Royal Farm herd: n = 721). Each herd was analyzed separately for birth weights, weaning weights, growth rate to weaning, number of services to conception, and age at first calving using REML and generalized linear mixed model analyses. Survival analysis (Cox proportional hazards model) was used in the Edinburgh herd to analyze the subsequent survival of live-born heifers, whereas descriptive data are presented for the Crichton Royal Farm herd. A higher mortality risk to weaning and to first service was observed in the live-born heifers that experienced moderate difficulty at birth compared with heifers born naturally. Surviving dystocial heifers had similar growth-to-weaning and fertility performance as heifers born naturally in both herds. It could be that the performance of dystocial heifers that survived to weaning was not affected or that it was compensated for by farm management. This study highlights long-term effects of the early experience of a difficult birth and thereby stresses the importance of preventing dystocia not just from the point of view of the adult cow, but also from the perspective of the calf. This would also improve farm efficiency and calf welfare.

KW - Calving ease

KW - Dairy calf

KW - Dystocia

KW - Heifer

M3 - Article

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SP - 6750

EP - 6754

JO - Journal of Dairy Science

JF - Journal of Dairy Science

SN - 0022-0302

ER -