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Milk losses and dynamics during perturbations in dairy cows differ with parity and lactation stage

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Milk yield dynamics during perturbations reflect how cows respond to challenges. This study investi-gated the characteristics of 62,406 perturbations from 16,604 lactation curves of dairy cows milked with an automated milking system at 50 Belgian, Dutch, and English farms. The unperturbed lactation curve representing the theoretical milk yield dynamics was estimated with an iterative procedure fitting a model on the daily milk yield data that was not part of a perturbation. Perturbations were defined as periods of at least 5 d of negative residuals having at least 1 day that the total daily milk production was below 80% of the estimated unperturbed lactation curve. Every per-turbation was characterized and split in a development and a recovery phase. Based hereon, we calculated both the characteristics of the perturbation as a whole, and the duration, slopes, and milk losses in the phases separately. A 2-way ANOVA followed by a pairwise comparison of group means was carried out to detect differences between these characteristics in different lactation stages (early, mid-early, mid-late, and late) and parities (first, second, and third or higher). On average, 3.8 ± 1.9 (mean ± standard deviation) per-turbations were detected per lactation in the first 305 d after calving, corresponding to an estimated 92.1 ± 135.8 kg of milk loss. Only 1% of the lactations had no perturbations. On average, 2.3 kg of milk was lost per day in the development phase, while the recovery phase corresponded to an average increase in milk production of 1.5 kg/d, and these phases lasted an average of 10.1 and 11.6 d, respectively. Perturbation characteristics were significantly different across parity and lactation stage groups, and early and mid-early perturbations in higher parities were found to be more severe with faster development rates, slower recovery rates, and higher milk losses. The method to characterize perturbations can be used for precision phenotyping purposes that look into the response of cows to challenges or that monitor applications (e.g., to evaluate the development and recovery of diseases and how these are affected by preventive actions or treatments).
Journal: Journal of Dairy Science
ISSN: 0022-0302
Issue: 1
Volume: 104
Pages: 405 - 418
Publication year:2021
Keywords:Food & animal science & technology