Effect of growth hormone on milk yield and reproductive performance of subfertile Holstein cows during extended lactations

Jessica Flores, José E. García, Jesús Mellado, Leticia Gaytán, Ángeles de Santiago, Miguel Mellado


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of the administration of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) throughout lactation to high-yielding subfertile (conception > 270 days postpartum) Holstein cows undergoing extended lactations (≥480 d) on milk production and reproductive performance. The study used two large adjacent commercial herds with similar management in a hot area of northern Mexico (25° N). Cows in one herd (n=2341) received a 500-mg dose of rbST every 14 d until dried off, starting 60 days postpartum. The other herd served as control (n=984). Across parity, rbST-treated cows produced 20% greater milk yield than control cows in 305-d lactations. Across parities, milk yield from 305 d postpartum to the end of lactation was 2734 kg higher in rbST-treated cows than control cows. Across parities rbST-treated cows produced 4777 more kg of milk during the entire lactation (mean 605 d) than the control group (mean 572 d). Conception rates (CR) at first service were only 3.2% and 5.9% (p<0.05) for control and rbST-treated cows, respectively. Overall CR was 43.5% and 61.6% (p<0.05) for control and treated cows, respectively. Control cows required 2.4 more (p<0.01) services per conception than rbST-treated cows. It was concluded that in this hot environment, the use of rbST suits dairy producers because it substantially improves both milk yield and reproductive performance in subfertile high-yielding Holstein cows. By markedly increasing lactation length and lactation persistency farm efficiency is greatly improved due to extended herd life.


conception rate; heat stress; lactation persistency; lactation length; services per conception

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2019171-13842