Fertility parameters in German dairy herds: Associations with milk yield and herd size

https://doi.org/10.17221/206/2019-CJASCitation:Rethmeier J., Wenzlau M., Wagner M., Wiedemann S., Bachmann L. (2019): Fertility parameters in German dairy herds: Associations with milk yield and herd size. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 64: 459-464.
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Fertility in dairy cows has decreased over the last fifty years while milk production per cow has increased. Furthermore, dairy herds become larger resulting in fewer employees per cow, which might also influence reproductive performance. To elucidate the situation in Germany, selected parameters (conception rate, service rate, pregnancy rate, days to first insemination and days open) were studied using data on 148 herds. For statistical analysis the herds were categorized concerning milk yield: (1) < 30 kg, (2) 30‒35 kg, and (3) > 35 kg/cow/day as well as concerning herd size: (1) < 200, (2) 200‒400, (3) 400‒1000 and (4) > 1000 milking cows. There was no difference in conception rate among herds. That means on dairy farms of larger size or with high milk yield the chance of an inseminated cow to become pregnant is the same as in small herds or in herds with low milk yield. Small herds (< 200 cows) had lower pregnancy rates than larger herds (200–400 cows). The pregnancy rate in herds with different milk yield was not statistically different. Though there was a trend that dairy farms with higher milk yield (> 30 kg) had higher pregnancy rates. The statistical differences and trends of pregnancy rates are due to higher service rate in larger herds as well as in herds with high milk yield. Therefore, service rate is the key factor for high reproductive performance on dairy farms. Poor fertility is not associated with high milk yield on herd basis or large herd size but may represent inappropriate farm management.

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