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J Dairy Sci. 2009 Sep;92(9):4641-7. doi: 10.3168/jds.2008-1982.

Trends for conception rate of Holsteins over time in the southeastern United States.

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  • 1Department of Animal and Dairy Science, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


The purpose of this study was to estimate trends in conception rate (CR) of Holsteins in the southeastern United States over time across month by milk production level and month by days in milk (DIM) subclasses. Data were obtained from Dairy Records Management Systems (Raleigh, NC) and included service records from 10 states (Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana). After eliminating records with lactation >1 and uncertain and extreme records (records without calving or birth date, with days to service after calving <21 or >250, or without next calving date), the final data set included 827,802 artificial insemination service records for 424,513 cows born from 1985 to 2000, and in 2,953 herds. Effects included in the model were year of birth (1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, 1995 to 2000), DIM class, milk production level (high, medium, low based on SD), service month, the covariate of cow age at calving, and 2- and 3-way interactions. Over time, an increase was observed for milk production and an overall decline in CR occurred. Examination of month by milk production subclass least squares means showed that in cool months (November to April) the deterioration of CR over time was small for low and medium milk production cows and virtually none for high-producing cows. However, in other months (May to June), there was a large decline over time in CR for cows in all milk production level subclasses. The trends in CR by DIM subclasses were examined for the months of February, May, June, and August. There was a general increase in CR with increasing DIM for all months within all birth-year groups. The months of February and August were somewhat similar for CR up to 175 DIM for the different birth-year groups. Much larger differences over time were observed for the months of May and June, and it appeared that for these 2 mo, cows in recent periods did not return to the same level of performance as cows in earlier periods. It may be that there has been a decline over time in the ability of cows to handle the onset of heat stress or the switch to pasture-based management systems.

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