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N Z Vet J. 2001 Apr;49(2):60-7.

Effects of periparturient diseases and conditions on the reproductive performance of New Zealand dairy cows.

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Animal Health Centre, PO Box 21, Morrinsville, New Zealand.



To determine the effect of retained foetal membranes (RFM), periparturient recumbency, calf mortality, dystocia, twin births and induction of parturition on submission and pregnancy rates of pasture-fed, seasonally-calving dairy cows in New Zealand.


Data were retrospectively collected for 2652 cows from 11 herds on the occurrence of periparturient diseases and condition, calving date, age and treatment for anoestrus prior to the planned start of mating (PSM). The effects of each disease or condition on submission and pregnancy rate by 28 days after PSM, final pregnancy rate, and the proportion of cows that conceived more than 50 days after PSM were examined using separate logistic regression models. Results are expressed as odds ratios (OR). Additionally, the effect of each disease or condition on the interval from PSM to conception was examined using survival analysis. Age, herd and late calving (i.e. cows calved < or =40 days before PSM) were included as factors in the models examined.


Induction of parturition increased the risk of RFM (OR=3.3, p<0.01). The 28-day submission rate was affected by age and herd but not by any of the periparturient conditions examined. The 28-day pregnancy rate was reduced by RFM (OR=0.04, p<0.05), induction of parturition (OR=0.67, p<0.01), assisted calving (OR=0.61, p<0.01), late calving (OR=0.55, p<0.05) and anoestrus (OR=0.27, p<0.05). The final pregnancy rate was reduced by RFM (OR=0.013, p<0.01), induction (OR=0.25, p<0.05), assisted calving (OR=0.30, p<0.005) and anoestrus (OR=0.32, p<0.05), and was increased if the cow was submitted for mating within 28 days after PSM (OR=2.72, p<0.05). Effects of recumbency and twinning were not significant in any of the models.


Cows that had had RFM or were assisted, induced or late to calve, had significantly lower pregnancy rates or took longer to conceive than unaffected herd-mates.


Intervention programs aimed at the examination and treatment of cows with periparturient conditions may improve the reproductive performance of New Zealand dairy herds. Investigations of poor reproductive performance of a herd should include analysis of the prevalence and effects of periparturient diseases and conditions.

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