Effect of age at first calving and heat stress at parturition on reproductive efficiency and postpartum disorders in Holstein heifers

Miguel Mellado, Vanessa Alba, Leticia Gaytán, José E. García, Jesús Mellado

Abstract


The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of age at first calving (AFC) and climatic conditions at calving on peripartum disorders and reproductive performance in Holstein heifers in a hot environment. A total of 3000 reproductive records from a large highly technified dairy farm were used; the variables evaluated were temperature humidity index (THI; <77, 77-83, >83) at calving and AFC (<2.0, 2.0-2.2 and >2.2 years). Across age groups, the cases of dystocic parturition increased (p<0.05) when the deliveries occurred with severe heat stress (4.3% vs. 3.3% for THI >83 and <83 units, respectively). Across THI, conception rate at the first postpartum artificial insemination (AI) was lower (p=0.02) for heifers calving for the first time >2.2 years compared to heifers calving between 2.0 and 2.2 and <2.0 years (9.8, 15.3 and 13.7%, respectively). Conception rate at first AI postcalving was higher (p<0.01) in heifers calving with THI less than 83 units than in heifers calving with a THI >83 units (16.8 vs. 5.4%). The conception rate considering all services was affected (p<0.05) by AFC (42.7, 50.4 and 40.9% for AFC <2.0, 2.0-2.2 and >2.2 years, respectively). The interaction AFC × THI at calving was significant (p<0.05). The occurrence of metritis was higher (p<0.05) in heifers <2.0 years of age at calving than those calving after 2 years of age. The presence of ovarian cysts was less common (p<0.05) in heifers with greater AFC. In conclusion, increasing the AFC in Holstein heifers had no benefits in reproduction and health, compared with heifers calving at <2.0 years. These data in a hot climate suggest that heifers should be selected to begin their first lactation before 2 years of age.

Keywords


temperature humidity index (THI); dystocia; conception rate; services per conception; preterm birth

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References


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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2019172-13544