Association of days in close up, gestation length, and rumination around time of calving with disease and pregnancy outcomes in multiparous dairy cows

J.G. Cook, P.T. Pepler*, L. Viora

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of rumination times and days spent in a close-up group before calving (DCU) on early-lactation health and reproductive outcomes in dairy cows. Data were gathered for 719 cows located in a single herd. Herd management and reproductive records were analyzed for cows receiving treatment in the first 30 d of lactation (days in milk; DIM) for clinical mastitis, reproductive tract disease, ketosis, milk fever, and displaced abomasum. Rumination times for each cow were downloaded daily from the herd's automated collar system used to generate heat and health alerts for each cow beginning at 21 d precalving until 14 d postcalving. During the first 30 DIM, 121 cows (18%) developed at least 1 disease—any combination of ketosis (40 cows, 5.9% of total), mastitis (17 cows, 2.5%), metritis (75 cows, 11%), milk fever (17 cows, 2.5%), or displaced abomasum (28 cows, 4.1%); 305 cows (45%) were pregnant again at 100 DIM, and an additional 139 cows (20%) were pregnant at 150 DIM. Principal component analysis was used to determine the relationship between gestation length and DCU and their association with the odds of developing disease in early lactation. We did not find any significant association between precalving rumination time and disease within the first 30 DIM. Higher rumination time in the week before calving was shown to be strongly linked to a shorter time to subsequent pregnancy, whereas rumination times postcalving were not associated with changes in the time to pregnancy. Principal component analysis showed that a curvilinear combination of gestation length and DCU (principal component 1) was significantly associated with changes in disease incidence in the first 30 DIM. Gestation length and time spent in close up are important management factors in reducing the incidence of disease in early lactation, and rumination times around calving may help predict future reproductive outcomes.

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