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Journal Articles Animal Year : 2017

Ability of dairy cows to be inseminated according to breed and genetic merit for production traits under contrasting pasture-based feeding systems

Abstract

Strong genetic selection on production traits is considered to be responsible for the declined ability of dairy cows to ensure reproduction. The present study aimed to quantify the effect of genetic characteristics (breeds and genetic merit for production traits) and feeding systems (FS) on the ability of dairy cows to be inseminated. An experiment was conducted during 9 years on Normande and Holstein cows assigned to contrasted pasture-based FS. Diets were based on maize silage in winter and grazing plus concentrate in spring in the High FS; and on grass silage in winter and grazing with no concentrate during spring in the low FS. Within breed, cows were classified into two genetic groups with similar estimated breeding values (EBV) for milk solids: cows with high EBV for milk yield were included in a Milk-Group and those with high EBV for fat and protein contents were included in a Content-Group. Holstein produced more milk throughout lactation than Normande cows (+2294 kg in the High FS and +1280 kg in the Low FS, P<0.001) and lost more body condition to nadir (-1.00 point in the High FS and -0.80 kg in the Low FS, P<0.001). They also showed a poorer ability to be inseminated because of both a delayed commencement of luteal activity (CLA) and delayed first service (more days from start of the breeding season to first service, DAI1). Cows in the Milk-Group produced more milk than cows in the Content-Group, but milk solids production was similar. Cows in the Content-Group had earlier CLA than cows in the Milk-Group (P<0.01). Genetic group neither affected ovulation detection rate nor DAI1. Within breed and FS, cows with high genetic merit for milk yield had later CLA and DAI1. Cows in the High FS produced more milk and lost less condition to nadir than cows in the Low FS. FS did not affect dairy cows' ability to be inseminated. However, cows with higher milk protein content, and presumably better energy balance, had earlier CLA (P<0.01) and DAI1 (P<0.10). In addition, higher milk yield was associated with poorer ovulation detection rate and oestrus intensity (P<0.05). The study showed that at similar EBV level for milk solids, selection for increased milk fat and protein content resulted in improved cyclicity and similar oestrous expression and submission rates compared with selection for increased milk yield.

Dates and versions

hal-01455930 , version 1 (03-02-2017)

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Nicolas Bedere, Catherine Disenhaus, Vincent Ducrocq, Ségolène Colette, Luc Delaby. Ability of dairy cows to be inseminated according to breed and genetic merit for production traits under contrasting pasture-based feeding systems. Animal, 2017, 11 (5), pp.826-835. ⟨10.1017/S1751731116002111⟩. ⟨hal-01455930⟩
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