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Reproductive status of cows in Dairy Herd Improvement programs and bred using artificial insemination (2016)

H.D. Norman, L.M. Walton, and J.W. Dürr


Background

Several measures of reproductive performance are summarized from Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) herds. Norman et al. (2009, Journal of Dairy Science 92:3517-3528) provided a comprehensive summary from 1996 through 2007 of 9 reproductive traits for U.S. Holsteins and Jerseys in DHI herds. This report continues to provide statistics on 7 of these reproductive traits by breed and year. Historically most reproductive performance studies were limited to days open or calving interval or from research herds.

More selection emphasis has been placed on fertility in recent years (Cole et al., 2009, AIPL Research Report NM$4) following a steady decline in a few of the important reproductive traits. For example, days open, which is used to calculate pregnancy rate for genetic evaluations increased by 37 days for Holsteins from 1960 through 2000; around 75% of that increase in days open was attributed to the change in correlated traits, a consequence of selection for higher milk yield.

The purpose of this 2018 annual report is to provide updates for some of the important reproductive traits. The phenotypic averages provided are a reflection of both genetic and environmental changes. A few traits have shown improvement since 2005; others deteriorated for a time, but all now show slight or considerable improvement. Obviously, Holsteins and Jerseys drive industry trends because they account for a high percentage of the cow population. Considerable fluctuation over time is evident for a few of the other breeds, most likely because of their smaller population sizes.



Table Summaries


TABLE 1. 20161 REPRODUCTIVE TRAIT AVERAGES and standard errors by breed.
 
SAS Output
Trait Ayrshire Brown_Swiss Guernsey Holstein Jersey M_Shorthorn RedWhite
Breedings per conception 1.8± 0.02 2.4± 0.02 2.3± 0.03 2.3± 0.00 2.2± 0.00 1.8± 0.04 2.2± 0.04
Days from calving to first breeding 94± 0.8 88± 0.4 91± 0.8 78± 0.0 82± 0.1 89± 1.4 84± 1.1
Days from calving to last breeding 126± 1.4 140± 1.0 136± 1.8 120± 0.1 115± 0.2 119± 2.5 124± 2.4
Days from first to last breeding 39± 1.1 62± 0.9 61± 1.6 52± 0.0 43± 0.2 36± 1.8 49± 1.9
Conception rate for first breedings 0.42± .009 0.29± .005 0.29± .009 0.36± .000 0.41± .001 0.40± .016 0.34± .015
Conception rate for all breedings 0.40± .006 0.27± .003 0.27± .005 0.33± .000 0.36± .001 0.38± .011 0.34± .010
Calving interval 409± 1.9 430± 1.2 432± 2.4 399± 0.1 395± 0.2 409± 3.3 408± 3.2

1Cows first bred in 2016 for all traits except calving interval; for calving interval, cows with first calving for the interval in 2014.
  • The fewest breedings per conception was 1.8 for Milking Shorthorns; the highest was 2.4 for Brown Swiss.
  • Days from calving to first breeding averaged 78 for Holsteins and 82 for Jerseys; the other breed averages ranged from 84 to 94 days.
  • Days from calving to last breeding were fewest for Jerseys (115) and highest for Brown Swiss (140).
  • Days from first to last breeding, the breeding interval, were fewest for Milking Shorthorn (36) and highest for Brown Swiss (62) and Guernseys (61); Ayrshires and Jerseys averaged 39 and 43 and Holsteins averaged 52 days.
  • Conception rate for first breedings was high for Ayrshire (42%), Jerseys (41%), and Milking Shorthorns (40%), and lowest (29%) for Brown Swiss and Guernseys; Holsteins averaged 36%.
  • Breeds had similar results for conception rate for all breedings as for first breedings, although generally slightly lower.
  • Calving interval (days) was shortest for Jerseys (395) and longest for Guernseys (432), and Brown Swiss (430); Holsteins averaged 399.



 
TABLE 2. Average numbers of INSEMINATIONS PER CONCEPTION by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 2.1 2.0 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.8
Brown Swiss 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Guernsey 2.6 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.5 2.3
Holstein 2.6 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.3
Jersey 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.2
Milking Shorthorn 1.8 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.8 1.9 1.7 1.9 1.7 1.8 1.8
Red & White 2.3 2.4 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2

  • Inseminations per conception (or number of services/conception) usually declined after 2006 and 2007, usually by 0.1 to 0.3.


 
TABLE 3. Average DAYS FROM CALVING TO FIRST BREEDING by breed and breeding year.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 94 94 93 92 94 95 95 92 91 93 94
Brown Swiss 92 92 92 90 89 89 87 88 89 88 88
Guernsey 90 93 95 88 90 91 92 88 93 92 91
Holstein 86 85 83 81 81 79 78 78 78 78 78
Jersey 84 83 78 76 77 76 75 74 76 79 82
Milking Shorthorn 91 95 94 88 93 99 95 91 92 91 89
Red & White 94 87 86 86 84 85 85 84 85 84 84

  • Days from calving to first breeding decreased by 8 and 10 days since 2006 in Holsteins and Red and Whites. Three other breeds declined by 2 to 4 days.
  • Norman et al. (2009) indicated that some of the early decreases resulted from the practices of heat synchronization and timed AI.


 
TABLE 4. Average DAYS FROM CALVING TO LAST BREEDING by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 132 134 131 132 132 134 133 126 127 125 126
Brown Swiss 160 155 152 146 147 144 141 143 141 141 140
Guernsey 150 152 149 147 145 144 146 142 144 141 136
Holstein 145 141 136 133 132 130 126 126 124 122 120
Jersey 130 126 121 116 115 113 110 110 111 114 115
Milking Shorthorn 119 122 122 121 123 132 121 123 118 119 119
Red & White 146 143 133 136 129 128 127 126 127 125 124

  • Days from calving to last breeding decreased by 6 to 25 days for all breeds except Milking Shorthorn from 10 years earlier.
  • The Holsteins, Red and Whites, and Brown Swiss showed the largest decreases of 25, 22, and 20 days, respectively.


 
TABLE 5. Average DAYS FROM FIRST TO LAST BREEDING by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 49 48 42 47 50 47 47 44 43 41 39
Brown Swiss 81 78 73 69 72 69 66 67 66 65 62
Guernsey 75 76 71 73 71 65 65 67 68 64 61
Holstein 70 67 63 62 62 61 58 58 56 55 52
Jersey 57 54 52 48 47 45 43 45 44 43 43
Milking Shorthorn 36 35 37 41 36 38 30 40 33 36 36
Red & White 62 64 56 57 53 48 48 51 50 49 49

  • Breeding intervals are lower in 2016 by 10 to 19 days than in 2006 for all breeds except Milking Shorthorn.


 
TABLE 6. Average CONCEPTION RATES FOR FIRST BREEDINGS by breed and breeding year.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 0.36 0.37 0.39 0.38 0.36 0.37 0.38 0.41 0.41 0.40 0.42
Brown Swiss 0.27 0.28 0.27 0.29 0.29 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.29 0.29
Guernsey 0.26 0.27 0.26 0.25 0.27 0.28 0.29 0.28 0.29 0.30 0.29
Holstein 0.31 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.33 0.33 0.34 0.34 0.36
Jersey 0.39 0.39 0.39 0.40 0.41 0.42 0.43 0.42 0.41 0.41 0.41
Milking Shorthorn 0.38 0.40 0.41 0.38 0.42 0.39 0.43 0.39 0.44 0.39 0.40
Red & White 0.30 0.28 0.33 0.35 0.33 0.35 0.37 0.36 0.35 0.34 0.34

  • Ayrshires, Jerseys, and Milking Shorthorn had the highest conception rates for first breedings in 2016 at 42, 41, and 40%, respectively. The conception rates for first breedings were lowest for Brown Swiss and Guernseys at 29%. Lowest conception rate for Holsteins was in 2006 (31%) and highest (36%) was in 2016.


 
TABLE 7. Average CONCEPTION RATES FOR ALL BREEDINGS by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Ayrshire 0.35 0.36 0.39 0.37 0.36 0.36 0.36 0.39 0.40 0.39 0.40
Brown Swiss 0.24 0.25 0.26 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.28 0.27 0.27 0.27
Guernsey 0.25 0.26 0.24 0.24 0.25 0.26 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27
Holstein 0.29 0.30 0.30 0.31 0.30 0.30 0.31 0.31 0.32 0.32 0.33
Jersey 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.36 0.37 0.37 0.38 0.37 0.37 0.37 0.36
Milking Shorthorn 0.35 0.38 0.40 0.36 0.39 0.38 0.41 0.37 0.41 0.37 0.38
Red & White 0.31 0.29 0.31 0.34 0.34 0.33 0.34 0.33 0.33 0.33 0.34

  • The lowest conception rates for all breedings were in 2006 or 2007 in all but one breed.
  • The conception rates for all breedings during the last decade were lower (2 to 5%) than those from first breedings in all breeds except Red and Whites. Ayrshire had the highest rate (40%) followed by Milking Shorthorn (38%), and Jersey (36%), while Brown Swiss and Guernsey had the lowest (27%).


 
    TABLE 8. Average CALVING INTERVALS (days) by breed and year of first calving for the interval.
     
    SAS Output
    Breed 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
    Ayrshire 421 416 418 413 418 421 417 410 410 409
    Brown Swiss 451 448 448 440 432 434 430 430 432 430
    Guernsey 438 439 441 435 432 436 432 430 430 432
    Holstein 423 418 417 412 409 408 404 403 401 399
    Jersey 411 402 400 396 393 392 390 388 391 395
    Milking Shorthorn 407 419 412 408 402 420 406 405 407 409
    Red & White 436 422 417 412 416 416 409 408 411 408

  • The long-term deterioration in calving interval shown by Nieuwhof et al. (1989) and Hare et al. (2006) often continued into 2006 for several breeds but since has been reversed.
    • Red and White calving interval decreased from 436 days in 2006 to 408 days in 2015.
    • Holstein calving intervals averaged 423 days in 2006 but declined to 399 days by 2015.
    • Jersey calving intervals decreased from 411 days in 2006 to 391 days in 2014, but increased 4 days in 2015.
    • Brown Swiss calving intervals improved from 451 days in 2006 to 430 days in 2015.
  • The positive economic impact from these reduced calving intervals cannot be overemphasized, as it reflects a valuable measure of the overall reproductive picture.
  • Continued improvement of this trait is especially important to herds engaged in seasonal calving.


 
TABLE 9. Numbers of RECORDS (2003–12): A) AYRSHIRE, B) BROWN SWISS, C) GUERNSEY, D) HOLSTEIN, E) JERSEY), F) MILKING SHORTHORN, and G) RED & WHITE used to calculate reproductive statistics by breed, trait, and year.
  • Information in Tables 1 through 8 was based on the numbers of records in Tables 9A through 9G.
  • The number of Holstein reproduction records available through DHIA nearly doubled from 2006 to 2016 revealing that more dairy producers are taking advantage of this management option.
  • The number of reproductive records for Jerseys tripled across the decade.

A) AYRSHIRE
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 3,732 3,636 3,553 3,194 3,718 3,633 3,790 3,493 3,251 3,248 3,102
Days from calving to first breeding 3,854 3,750 3,713 3,307 3,864 3,793 3,930 3,599 3,369 3,371 3,223
Days from calving to last breeding 2,652 2,698 2,614 2,365 2,671 2,673 2,767 2,633 2,494 2,391 2,298
Days from first to last breeding 3,732 3,636 3,553 3,194 3,718 3,633 3,790 3,493 3,251 3,248 3,102
Conception rate for first breedings 3,458 3,356 3,196 2,915 3,392 3,369 3,484 3,217 3,016 2,941 2,839
Conception rate for all breedings 7,845 7,290 7,013 6,111 7,568 7,355 7,664 6,984 6,242 6,177 5,827
Calving interval 1,905 1,750 1,686 1,558 1,867 1,949 1,917 1,727 1,713 1,603  





B) BROWN SWISS
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 9,351 9,722 9,973 9,618 10,165 10,327 10,105 9,776 9,782 10,282 9,511
Days from calving to first breeding 9,694 10,088 10,340 10,021 10,517 10,718 10,498 10,116 10,103 10,667 9,890
Days from calving to last breeding 5,863 6,257 6,417 6,279 6,773 6,823 6,684 6,580 6,480 6,731 6,266
Days from first to last breeding 9,351 9,722 9,973 9,618 10,165 10,327 10,105 9,776 9,782 10,282 9,511
Conception rate for first breedings 8,778 9,171 9,178 8,981 9,483 9,692 9,476 9,184 9,039 9,570 8,867
Conception rate for all breedings 23,954 25,257 25,347 23,949 24,745 25,263 24,668 23,787 23,907 24,792 23,335
Calving interval 4,678 5,044 4,892 5,031 5,363 5,198 5,132 5,017 5,142 4,956  





C) GUERNSEY
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 3,533 3,497 3,476 3,215 3,607 3,399 3,249 3,000 2,986 3,079 2,944
Days from calving to first breeding 3,670 3,647 3,617 3,345 3,762 3,543 3,369 3,098 3,095 3,173 3,049
Days from calving to last breeding 2,332 2,335 2,205 2,069 2,369 2,221 2,168 2,037 1,994 2,051 1,840
Days from first to last breeding 3,533 3,497 3,476 3,215 3,607 3,399 3,249 3,000 2,986 3,079 2,944
Conception rate for first breedings 3,330 3,182 3,062 2,954 3,291 3,086 2,978 2,720 2,706 2,769 2,656
Conception rate for all breedings 9,534 9,353 9,101 8,838 9,262 8,576 8,030 7,672 7,501 7,648 7,143
Calving interval 1,704 1,671 1,527 1,617 1,643 1,540 1,445 1,452 1,481 1,503  





D) HOLSTEIN
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 1,085,545 1,359,333 1,405,351 1,443,022 1,676,291 1,736,026 1,814,994 1,848,853 1,935,034 2,001,011 2,003,458
Days from calving to first breeding 1,120,897 1,400,538 1,450,022 1,487,627 1,726,826 1,787,026 1,871,063 1,903,688 1,988,988 2,059,638 2,061,297
Days from calving to last breeding 808,821 1,028,012 1,068,105 1,100,566 1,281,812 1,323,567 1,388,883 1,418,387 1,489,326 1,543,488 1,554,229
Days from first to last breeding 1,085,545 1,359,333 1,405,351 1,443,022 1,676,291 1,736,026 1,814,994 1,848,853 1,935,034 2,001,011 2,003,458
Conception rate for first breedings 1,039,080 1,275,722 1,341,866 1,392,530 1,618,419 1,690,279 1,766,413 1,806,414 1,882,854 1,944,536 1,940,915
Conception rate for all breedings 2,750,797 3,367,289 3,558,668 3,578,049 4,160,453 4,365,402 4,500,376 4,566,518 4,683,727 4,838,528 4,736,530
Calving interval 590,498 728,949 747,618 794,529 893,308 928,808 966,460 996,583 1,039,517 1,077,956  





E) JERSEY
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 53,701 88,850 95,057 104,059 128,079 147,157 156,426 167,009 178,019 175,028 171,616
Days from calving to first breeding 55,722 92,056 98,319 107,113 132,055 151,814 162,253 172,152 183,421 180,884 177,153
Days from calving to last breeding 42,346 70,665 76,537 85,436 106,705 121,746 128,560 136,990 144,340 138,060 134,855
Days from first to last breeding 53,701 88,850 95,057 104,059 128,079 147,157 156,426 167,009 178,019 175,028 171,616
Conception rate for first breedings 51,673 81,019 89,787 98,763 119,848 137,722 144,549 152,369 159,598 145,802 136,317
Conception rate for all breedings 121,903 194,989 221,372 234,951 281,747 322,531 336,167 361,565 390,313 378,546 368,883
Calving interval 30,789 49,294 53,281 58,140 75,619 80,720 86,624 91,744 92,921 85,615  





F) MILKING SHORTHORN
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 454 783 815 696 927 1,006 1,235 1,103 1,118 1,067 1,051
Days from calving to first breeding 480 801 854 720 955 1,056 1,282 1,164 1,194 1,109 1,087
Days from calving to last breeding 292 507 574 475 648 719 871 768 786 726 705
Days from first to last breeding 454 783 815 696 927 1,006 1,235 1,103 1,118 1,067 1,051
Conception rate for first breedings 383 667 725 618 803 859 1,089 978 1,004 925 962
Conception rate for all breedings 761 1,316 1,448 1,325 1,661 1,837 2,097 2,032 1,965 1,951 1,893
Calving interval 203 325 307 305 382 493 491 459 470 476  





G) RED & WHITE
 
SAS Output
Trait 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Breedings per conception 1,100 1,377 1,291 1,166 1,203 1,195 1,135 1,202 1,101 1,152 1,018
Days from calving to first breeding 1,138 1,405 1,325 1,207 1,254 1,250 1,178 1,238 1,131 1,192 1,042
Days from calving to last breeding 763 980 888 865 911 820 829 857 805 835 746
Days from first to last breeding 1,100 1,377 1,291 1,166 1,203 1,195 1,135 1,202 1,101 1,152 1,018
Conception rate for first breedings 987 1,246 1,204 1,080 1,144 1,128 1,046 1,134 1,041 1,075 949
Conception rate for all breedings 2,440 3,298 2,950 2,527 2,734 2,609 2,376 2,537 2,555 2,503 2,267
Calving interval 533 685 582 565 578 578 575 563 588 575  



Contact: Duane Norman, 301-525-2006, duane.norman@uscdcb.com

We wish to acknowledge the contribution of the dairy producers who supplied data for this report through their participation in the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) program and the dairy records processing centers (DRPC) that processed and relayed the information on to the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB).