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The impact of early life events on future reproductive and milk production performance in Holstein dairy heifers.

T. S. Steckler

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06-22-2020

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Abstract:

M58
The impact of early life events on future reproductive and milk production performance in Holstein dairy heifers.
T. S. Steckler*, J. P. Boerman. Purdue University Department of Animal Sciences West Lafayette, IN.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of pre-weaning events on heifer conception rate and 1st lactation milk production of calves raised in automatic calf feeders. Daily milk consumption (MC), 400 d predicted BW, average daily gain (ADG), heifer conception rate (CR), and 280 d 1st lactation milk production (280M) were collected between Oct. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2020. Calves (n = 9,099) were fed milk replacer through an automated calf feeding system (feeders = 8) for 60 d (range: 48 — 126d), and fed whole pasteurized nonsalable milk of 5% F and 30% P enhancer added at 20 g per L of milk. Calves were weighed at birth and several other time periods before calving. Daily BW predictions were calculated for individual animals using 3rd order orthogonal polynomials and 400 d (421.0 � 34.1 kg; mean � SD) weights were used for this model. ADG was calculated based on predicted BW between 0 and 60 d and 0—400 d. Cumulative 60 d MC was 508.1 � 67.3 L; range of 179.9—785.1 L. Average age at conception was 437.5 � 45.0 d; range of 308 to 631 d (n = 5,193), and average 280M was 9,305 � 1,371.8 kg; range of 712—13,358 kg (n = 2,508). ADG from 0 to 400 d was weakly negatively correlated with conception age (r = - 0.18; P < 0.0001); calves with higher ADG conceived earlier than calves with lower ADG. Cumulative 60 d MC was weakly negatively correlated with conception age (r = −0.10; P < 0.0001), with a 156 L reduction in MC pre-weaning leading to an 11.6 d decrease in heifer CR. Pre-weaning ADG (0—60 d) was weakly positively correlated with 280M (r = 0.08; P < 0.0001). Calves with a 60 d ADG of 0.90 � 0.07 kg (bottom 25%) produced on average 234 kg less milk than calves with an ADG of 1.20 � 0.06 kg (top 25%). Genetic milk also influenced 280M (R2 = 0.24, P < 0.0001). There was an 1,853.4 kg difference between calves in the top and bottom 25% of genomic milk index. Heifers with higher pre-weaning ADG, increased milk consumption, and higher genomic milk indexes have reproductive and milk production advantages through their 1st lactation.

Keywords: pre-weaning, reproduction, milk production.