Skip to main content

The effect of strain of Holstein-Friesian cow and feeding system on reproductive performance in seasonal-calving milk production systems

  • B. Horan (a1) (a2), J. F. Mee (a1), M. Rath (a2), P. O' Connor (a1) and P. Dillon (a1)...

Three strains of Holstein-Friesian (HF) cows: high production North American (HP), high durability North American (HD) and New Zealand (NZ) were assigned, within strain, to one of three pasture-based feeding systems: Moorepark (MP), high concentrate (HC), and high stocking rate (HS). The effects of strain of HF, feeding system and parity on milk production, body condition score (BCS), live weight, energy balance and reproductive performance were studied using a repeated measures model with a factorial arrangement of strain ofHF and feeding systems. Associations between these variables and conception to first service (CONCEPT1), conception to first and second service (CONCEPTl_2), pregnancy rate at 6 weeks (PREG6) and overall pregnancy rate (PREG) were assessed using logistic regressions. When treatment means were compared, the NZ strain had a shorter gestation length and a higher CONCEPT1J2 than both the HP and HD strains. Similarly, the NZ strain had a higher PREG6 and PREG than the HP strain. Feeding system had no significant effect on reproductive performance. The HP strain had the highest milk yield at first AI and peak milk yield, the NZ strain had the lowest milk yield while the HD strain was intermediate. The energy balance of the NZ strain was higher than that of the HP and HD strains. The NZ strain had the lowest live weight and highest BCS; the HD strain had the highest live weight and the HP strain had the lowest BCS. The results show that dairy cows with superior genetic merit for fertility traits have better reproductive performance.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. E-mail:
Hide All
Arendonk J. A. M. van, Nieuwhof G. J., Vos H. and Korver S. 1991. Genetic aspects of feed intake and efficiency in lactating dairy heifers. 1991. Livestock Production Science 29: 263275.
Bauman D. E. and Currie W. B. 1980. Partitioning of nutrients during pregnancy and lactation: a review of mechanisms involving homeostasis and homeorhesis. Journal of Dairy Science 63: 15141529.
Berry D. P., Buckley E., Dillon P., Evans R. D., Rath M. and Veerkamp R. E. 2003. Genetic parameters for body condition score, bodyweight, milk yield and fertility estimates using random regression models. Journal of Dairy Science 86: 37043717.
Buckley E., Dillon P., Rath M. and Veerkamp R. F. 2000. The relationship between genetic merit for yield and live-weight, condition score and energy balance of spring calving Holstein-Friesian dairy cows on grass based systems of milk production. Journal of Dairy Science 83: 18781886.
Buckley E., O'Sullivan K., Mee J. E., Evans R. D. and Dillon P. 2003. Relationships among milk yield, body condition, cow weight and reproduction in spring-calved Holstein-Friesians. Journal of Dairy Science 86: 23082319.
Butler W. R. and Smith R. D. 1989. Interrelationships between energy balance and postpartum reproductive function in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 72: 767783.
Coulon J. B. and Remond B. 1991. Variations in milk output and milk protein content in response to the level of energy supply to the dairy cow: a review. Livestock Production Science 29: 3147.
Dillon P., Crosse S., Stakelum G. and Flynn E. 1995. The effect of calving date, and stocking rate on the performance of spring-calving dairy cows. Grass and Forage Science 50: 286299.
Dillon P. and Stakelum G. 1989. Herbage and dosed alkanes as a grass measurement technique for dairy cows. Irish Journal of Agricultural Research 28: 104 (abstr.).
Domecq J. J., Skidmore A. L., Lloyd J. W. and Kaneene J. B. 1997. Relationship between body condition scores and conception at first artificial insemination in a large dairy herd of high yielding Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science 80: 113120.
Evans R. D., Buckley F., Dillon P. and Veerkamp R. F. 2002. Genetic parameters for production and fertility in spring-calving Irish dairy cattle. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research 41: 4354.
Evans R. D., Dillon P., Buckley E., Wallace M., Ducrocq V. and Garrick D. J. 2004. Trends in milk production, fertility and survival of Irish dairy cows as a result of the introgression of Holstein-Friesian genes. Proceedings of the Agricultural Research Forum, Tullamore, Ireland, p. 52 (abstr.).
Faverdin P., Dulphy J. P., Coulon J. B., Verite R., Garel J. P., Rouel J. and Marquis B. 1991. Substitution of roughage by concentrates by dairy cows. Livestock Production Science 27: 137156.
Fry J. C. 1999. Biological data analysis. A practical approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Fulkerson W. J., Wilkins J., Dobos R. C., Hough G. M., Goddard M. E. and Davison T. 2001. Reproductive performance in Holstein-Friesian cows in relation to genetic merit and level of feeding when grazing pasture. Animal Science 73: 397406.
Gordon E J., Patterson D. C., Yan T., Porter M. G., Mayne C. S. and Unsworth E. F. 1995. The influence of genetic index for milk production on the response to complete diet feeding and the utilization of energy and nitrogen. Animal Science 61: 199210.
Hahn J., Foote R. H. and Seidel G. E. Jr 1969. Quality and freezability of semen from growing and aged dairy bulls. Journal of Dairy Science 52: 1843.
Hansen L. B., Cole J. B., Marx G. D. and Seykora A. J. 1999. Productive life and reasons for disposal of Holstein-Friesian cows selected for large versus small body size. Journal of Dairy Science 82: 795801.
Harris B. L. and Kolver E. S. 2001. Review of Holsteinization of intensive pastoral dairy farming in New Zealand. Journal of Dairy Science 84: (suppl.) E56-E61.
Hoekstra J., Lugt A. W. van der, Werf J. H. J. van der and Ouweltjes W. 1994. Genetic and phenotypic parameters for milk production and fertility traits in upgraded dairy cattle. Livestock Production Science 40: 225232.
Horan B., Mee J. E., O'Connor P., Rath M. and Dillon P. 2004. The effect of strain of Holstein-Friesian cow and feeding system on postpartum ovarian function, animal production and conception rate to first service. Theriogenology In press.
Hosmer D. W. and Lemeshow S. 1989. Applied logistic regression. Wiley-Interscience, New York.
Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. 1999. Irish cattle breeding statistics 1999. Irish Cattle Breeding Society Ltd, Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland.
Jarraige R. 1989. Ruminant nutrition, recommended allowances and feed tables. John Libbey Eurotext, Montrougue, France.
Kennedy J., Dillon P., O' Sullivan K., Buckley F. and Rath M. 2003. The effect of genetic merit for milk production and concentrate feeding level on reproductive performance of Holstein-Friesian cows in a grass-based system. Animal Science 76: 297308.
Kleinbaum D. G., Kupper L. L., Muller K. E. and Nizum A. 1998. Applied regression analysis and other multivariate methods, third edition. Duxberry Press, Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, Pacific Grove, CA.
Kolver E. S. 2001. Rethinking our approach to lactation. In Dairyfarming annual, pp. 3347. Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, New Zealand.
Lawes Agricultural Trust. 1997. Genstat 5, release 4. 1. IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden.
Lean I. J., Galland J. C. and Scott J. L. 1989. Relationships between fertility, peak milk yields and lactational persistency in dairy cows. Theriogenology 31: 10931103.
Lowman B. G., Scott N. and Somerville S. 1976. Condition scoring of cattle, revised edition. East of Scotland College of Agriculture bulletin no. 6.
Lucy M. C. 2001. Reproductive loss in high-producing dairy cattle: where will it end? journal of Dairy Science 61: 12771293.
MacMillan K. L. and Curnow R. J. 1977. Tail painting - a simple form of oestrus detection in New Zealand dairy herds. New Zealand journal of Experimental Agriculture 5: 357361.
MacMillan K. L., Lean I. J. and Westwood C. T. 1996. The effects of lactation on the fertility of dairy cows. Australian Veterinary Journal 73: 141147.
Mayes R. W., Lamb C. S. and Colgrove P. M. 1986. The use of dosed and herbage n-alkanes as markers for the determination of herbage intake. Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge 107: 161170.
Mee J. F. 2004. Temporal trends in reproductive performance in Irish dairy herds and associated risk factors. Irish Veterinary journal 57: 158166.
Nagelkerke N. J. D. 1991. A note on a general definition on the coefficient of determination. Biometrika 78: 691692.
Nebel R. L. and McGilliard M. L. 1993. Interactions of high milk yield and reproductive performance in dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 76: 32573268.
Oldenbroek J. K., Galesloot P. A. J., Pool M. H. and Werf J. H. J. van der. 1997. Effects of selection for milk yield on feed intake and metabolism of heifers in early lactation. Proceedings of the 48th EAAP, Vienna (ed. van Arendonk J. A. M.). Wageningen Pers, Wageningen.
Pryce J. E., Coffey M. P. and Simm G. 2001. The relationship between body condition score and reproductive performance. Journal of Dairy Science 84: 15081515.
Pryce J. E., Esselmont R. J., Thompson R., Veerkamp R. E., Kossaibati M. A. and Simm G. 1998. Estimation of genetic parameters using health, fertility and production data for a management recording system for dairy cattle. Animal Science 66: 577584.
Pryce J. E. and Veerkamp R. F. 2001. The incorporation of fertility indices in genetic improvement programmes. In Fertility in the high producing dairy cow, vol. 1 (ed. Diskin M. G.), British Society of Animal Science occasional publication no. 26, pp. 237249.
Senatore E. M., Butler W. R. and Oltenacu P. A. 1996. Relationships between energy balance and post-partum ovarian activity and fertility in first lactation dairy cows. Animal Science 62: 1723.
Snijders S.E.M., Dillon P. G., O'Farrell K. J., Diskin M., Wylie A. R. G., O'Callaghan D., Rath M. and Boland M. P. 2001. Genetic merit for milk production and reproductive success in dairy cows. Animal Reproduction Science 65: 1731.
Statistical Analysis Systems Institute. 2002. User's guide: statistics. SAS Institute, Cary, NC.
Veerkamp R. F., Beerda B. and Lende T. van der. 2003. Effects of genetic selection for milk yield on energy balance, level of hormones, and metabolites in lactating cattle, and possible links to reduced fertility. Livestock Production Science 83: 257275.
Veerkamp R. F., Dillon P., Kelly E., Cromie A. R. and Groen A. F. 2002. Dairy cattle breeding objectives combining yield, survival and calving interval for pasture-based systems in Ireland under different milk quota scenarios. Livestock Production Science 76: 137151.
Veerkamp R. E. and Emmans G. C. 1995. Sources of genetic variation in energetic efficiency of dairy cows. Livestock Production Science 44: 8797.
Veerkamp R. E., Koenen E. P. C. and Jong G. de. 2001. Genetic correlations among body condition score, yield and fertility in first parity cows estimated by random regression models. Journal of Dairy Science 84: 23272335.
Westwood C. T., Lean I. J. and Garvin J. K. 2002. Factors influencing fertility of Holstein dairy cows: a multivariate description. Journal of Dairy Science 85: 32253237.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Animal Science
  • ISSN: 1357-7298
  • EISSN: 1748-748X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 4 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 207 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.