By Doherty, M. L. and Huxley, J. and Lorenz, I. and O'Grady, L. and Somers, J. R., Ir Vet J, 2015
Research Paper Web Link / URL:
BACKGROUND: The effects of lameness on fertility have been documented frequently but few data are available from seasonally breeding, pasture-based herds (such as those used in Ireland) where cows are housed during the winter months but managed at pasture for the remainder of the year. This study determined the prevalence of lameness in a group of 786 cows in 10 pasture-based Irish dairy herds before, during and after the breeding season and assessed the relationship between lameness and the reproductive performance in these herds through serial locomotion scoring during the grazing period. RESULTS: Lameness prevalences of 11.6 % before, 14.6 % during and 11.6 % after the breeding season were found and these compared favourably to results from housed cattle and are similar to other studies carried out in grazing herds. A Cox proportional hazards model with locomotion score as time varying covariate was used. After controlling for the effect of farm, month of calving, body condition score at calving, body condition score loss after calving and economic breeding index, cows identified as lame during the study were less likely to become pregnant. Cows lame before the earliest serve date but no longer lame during the breeding season, cows becoming lame after the earliest serve date and cows identified lame both before and after this date were respectively 12 %, 35 % and 38 % less likely to become pregnant compared to cows never observed lame during the study. However, these findings were only significant for cows becoming lame after the earliest serve date and cows lame both before and after the start of breeding. CONCLUSIONS: This study found that the reproductive efficiency was significantly (p < 0.05) lower in cows becoming lame during the breeding season and cows lame before and during the breeding season compared to non-lame cows. Cows no longer lame during the breeding season had a lower Submission Rate to first serve within 3 weeks of earliest serve date. However, the Pregnancy Rate was not significantly (p > 0.05) lower in these animals compared to cows never diagnosed as lame. In addition to lameness status, nutritional status and genetics were found to influence the reproductive performance in pasture-based Irish dairy herds.
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