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Heifer rearing conditions affect length of productive life in Swedish dairy cows

Hultgren, Jan and Svensson, Catarina (2009). Heifer rearing conditions affect length of productive life in Swedish dairy cows. Preventive veterinary medicine. 89 :3-4 , 255-264
[Research article]

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2009.02.012


Associations between rearing conditions and the risk of culling in dairy cows were
studied by survival analysis. Data were collected from 1039 Swedish Red cows, 1029
Swedish Holsteins, and 56 cows of other milk or cross-breeds, representing all female animals
born in 109 Swedish herds during 1998. Length of productive life was defined as the number
of days from 1st calving to culling. The applied Weibull proportional hazards model included
time-independent effects of breed, housing from 3 to 7 months of age, number of housing
changes before calving, grazing before 1st calving, herd median age at 1st calving, age at 1st
calving, cow housing, herd lactational incidence risk of veterinary-reported clinical mastitis,
and the random effect of herd. Time-dependent effects were year, month, the interaction year
by month, parity, number of breedings, pregnancy status, the interaction parity by pregnancy
status, herd mean milk-production level, relative milk yield within breed-parity, and
veterinary-reported clinical mastitis. The lactation was divided into six stages in which
pregnancy status was assumed to be known by the farmer and culling could occur. Median
productive life time in culled cows was 780 d and 14% of the records were censored due to
terminated data collection. An individual calving age of 28.2–30.9 months was associated
with the highest culling risk, 1.2-fold higher than calving at ≤25.3 months, whereas the risk
decreased almost linearly with a higher herd median age at 1st calving. Housing in slatted pens
with >7 calves from 3 to 7 months was associated with a 1.7-fold increase in risk, relative to
litter pens. If a cow had changed housing system 4 times before 1st calving it increased the
risk of culling 1.4 times, relative to two housing changes. These results show that rearing
factors affect the productive life time of dairy cows in Swedish family operations.

Authors/Creators:Hultgren, Jan and Svensson, Catarina
Title:Heifer rearing conditions affect length of productive life in Swedish dairy cows
Series Name/Journal:Preventive veterinary medicine
Year of publishing :2009
Page range:255-264
Associated Programs and Other Stakeholders:SLU - Research Areas for the Future > Future Animal Health and Welfare (until Jan 2017)
Additional Information:Published by Elsevier in Preventive Veterinary Medicine
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Accepted version
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 402 Animal and Dairy Science > Animal and Dairy Science.
Keywords:Culling, Dairy cattle, Health, Length of productive life, Rearing, Replacement heifer, Survival
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
ID Code:8406
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Animal Environment and Health
Deposited By: Linda Åström
Deposited On:28 Oct 2011 07:41
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:47

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