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J Dairy Sci. 1999 Dec;82(12):2564-73.

Production responses to bovine somatotropin in northeast dairy herds.

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Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-4801, USA.


The commercial response to bovine somatotropin was examined in northeast dairy herds from 1990 to 1998 (4-yr preapproval and 4-yr postapproval). With DHI records and Monsanto customer files, a control group (never purchased Posilac) and a bovine somatotropin (bST) group (used on at least 50% of cows) were identified. A total of 340 herds were involved and, over the 8-yr period, there were over 80,000 cows, 200,000 lactations, and 2 million test days. Herd management comparisons demonstrated the response to bST was relatively constant each year of the postapproval period. Assuming 100% of cows were supplemented, response to bST over a 305-d lactation equaled 894 kg of milk, 27 kg of milk fat, and 31 kg of milk protein. Comparisons of lactation curves were used to identify where the bST response occurred in the lactation cycle. Analysis demonstrated the responses in milk, milk fat, and protein yield were minimal in the early phase of lactation, and then gradually increased until reaching a plateau over the last half of the lactation cycle. Persistency of lactation was also improved by bST, indicating the opportunity exists to extend lactation with combined use of bST and altered reproductive management. Average age and days in milk did not differ between control and bST herds. Thus, stayability and herd-life of animals were not altered by bST treatment. Somatic cell count (SCC) linear scores were minimally affected in herds utilizing bST and the pattern of SCC over the lactation cycle was unaffected. Overall bST improved lactation yield and persistency consistently over the 4-yr postapproval period with no effects on cow stayability and herd-life.

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