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, 93 (4), 1459-67

Management Practices Associated With Conception Rate and Service Rate of Lactating Holstein Cows in Large, Commercial Dairy Herds

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Management Practices Associated With Conception Rate and Service Rate of Lactating Holstein Cows in Large, Commercial Dairy Herds

J M Schefers et al. J Dairy Sci.

Abstract

Data from lactating Holstein cows in herds that participate in a commercial progeny testing program were analyzed to explain management factors associated with herd-average conception and service rates on large commercial dairies. On-farm herd management software was used as the source of data related to production, reproduction, culling, and milk quality for 108 herds. Also, a survey regarding management, facilities, nutrition, and labor was completed on 86 farms. A total of 41 explanatory variables related to management factors and conditions that could affect conception and service rate were considered in this study. Models explaining conception and service rates were developed using a machine learning algorithm for constructing model trees. The most important explanatory variables associated with conception rate were the percentage of repeated inseminations between 4 and 17 d post-artificial insemination, stocking density in the breeding pen, length of the voluntary waiting period, days at pregnancy examination, and somatic cell score. The most important explanatory variables associated with service rate were the number of lactating cows per breeding technician, use of a resynchronization program, utilization of soakers in the holding area during the summer, and bunk space per cow in the breeding pen. The aforementioned models explained 35% and 40% of the observed variation in conception rate and service rate, respectively, and underline the association of herd-level management factors not strictly related to reproduction with herd reproductive performance.

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