Hide/Show Nav
One Town Center, 4201 Northview Drive, Suite 302, Bowie, MD 20716 | Ph: 240 334 7744

Reproductive status of cows in Dairy Herd Improvement programs and bred using artificial insemination (2015)

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


Background

Several measures of reproductive performance are now available from most 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. Nieuwhof et al. (1989, Journal of Dairy Science 72:685-692) and Hare et al. (2006, Journal of Dairy Science 89:365-370) reported averages for age at first calving and calving interval for U.S. DHI herds for earlier years. 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 (Trend in daughter pregnancy rate for Holsteins or Red & Whites, April 2015), a consequence of selection for higher milk yield.

The purpose of this 2017 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 their smaller population sizes.



Table Summaries


TABLE 1. 20151 REPRODUCTIVE TRAIT AVERAGES and standard errors by breed.
 
SAS Output
Trait Ayrshire Brown Swiss Guernsey Holstein Jersey Milking Shorthorn Red & White
Breedings per conception 1.9 0.02 2.4 0.02 2.4 0.03 2.4 0.00 2.1 0.00 1.8 0.04 2.2 0.05
Days from calving to first breeding 93 0.8 88 0.4 92 0.8 78 0.0 79 0.1 91 1.4 85 1.1
Days from calving to last breeding 123 1.4 139 1.0 139 1.9 122 0.1 113 0.2 119 2.3 125 2.2
Days from first to last breeding 39 1.0 63 0.9 61 1.6 55 0.1 43 0.2 35 1.7 49 2.0
Conception rate for first breedings 0.40 .009 0.29 .005 0.30 .009 0.34 .000 0.41 .001 0.39 .016 0.34 .015
Conception rate for all breedings 0.39 .006 0.27 .003 0.27 .005 0.32 .000 0.37 .001 0.37 .011 0.33 .009
Calving interval 410 1.7 432 1.3 429 2.3 401 0.1 391 0.2 406 3.4 410 2.9

1Cows first bred in 2015 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, Guernseys, and Holsteins.
  • Days from calving to first breeding averaged 78 for Holsteins and 79 for Jerseys; the other breed averages ranged from 85 to 93 days.
  • Days from calving to last breeding were fewest for Jerseys (113) and highest for Brown Swiss and Guernseys (139).
  • Days from first to last breeding, the breeding interval, were fewest for Milking Shorthorn (35) and highest for Brown Swiss (63) and Guernseys (61); Ayrshires and Jerseys averaged 39 and 43 and Holsteins averaged 55 days.
  • Conception rate for first breedings was high for Jerseys (41%), Ayrshire (40%), and Milking Shorthorns (39%), and lowest (29% and 30%) for Brown Swiss and Guernseys; Holsteins averaged 34%.
  • Breeds had similar results for conception rate for all breedings as for first breedings, although slightly lower.
  • Calving interval (days) was shortest for Jerseys (391) and longest for Brown Swiss (432) and Guernseys (429); Holsteins averaged 401.



 
TABLE 2. Average numbers of INSEMINATIONS PER CONCEPTION by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 2.1 2.1 2.0 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.9 1.9 1.9
Brown Swiss 2.5 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.4 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4
Guernsey 2.6 2.6 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.6 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.4
Holstein 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.4 2.4
Jersey 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.1
Milking Shorthorn 1.5 1.8 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.8 1.9 1.7 1.9 1.7 1.8
Red & White 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.2 2.2

  • Breedings per conception (or number of services/conception) were often highest in 2005 to 2007 and have decreased by at least 0.2 since for 6 of the 7 breeds.


 
TABLE 3. Average DAYS FROM CALVING TO FIRST BREEDING by breed and breeding year.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 94 94 94 93 92 94 95 95 92 91 93
Brown Swiss 93 92 92 92 90 89 89 87 88 89 88
Guernsey 91 90 93 95 88 90 92 92 88 93 92
Holstein 87 86 85 83 81 81 79 78 78 78 78
Jersey 86 84 83 78 76 77 76 75 74 76 79
Milking Shorthorn 98 91 95 94 88 93 99 95 91 92 91
Red & White 97 94 87 86 86 84 85 86 84 85 85

  • Days from calving to first breeding has decreased by 9 and 7 days since 2005 in Holsteins and Jerseys. Red and Whites declined by 12 days, Milking Shorthorn by 7 days, and Brown Swiss by 5 days.
  • Norman et al. (2009) indicated that much of the decline 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 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 134 132 134 131 132 132 134 133 127 126 123
Brown Swiss 157 160 155 152 146 147 144 141 143 141 139
Guernsey 153 150 152 149 147 145 144 145 142 143 139
Holstein 146 145 141 136 133 132 130 126 126 124 122
Jersey 132 130 126 121 116 115 113 110 110 111 113
Milking Shorthorn 118 119 122 122 121 123 132 121 124 118 119
Red & White 148 146 143 133 136 129 128 126 126 127 125

  • Days from calving to last breeding decreased by 11 to 24 days for all breeds except Milking Shorthorn over the last 10 years.
  • The Holsteins and Red and Whites showed the largest declines of 24 and 23 days.


 
TABLE 5. Average DAYS FROM FIRST TO LAST BREEDING by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 50 49 48 42 47 50 47 47 44 43 39
Brown Swiss 79 81 78 73 69 72 69 66 67 65 63
Guernsey 75 75 76 71 73 71 65 65 67 68 61
Holstein 71 70 67 63 62 62 61 58 58 56 55
Jersey 57 57 54 52 48 47 45 43 45 44 43
Milking Shorthorn 25 36 35 37 41 36 38 30 40 33 35
Red & White 59 62 64 56 57 53 48 48 50 50 49

  • Breeding intervals are lower in 2015 by 10 to 16 days than in 2005 for all breeds except Milking Shorthorn.


 
TABLE 6. Average CONCEPTION RATES FOR FIRST BREEDINGS by breed and breeding year.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 0.37 0.36 0.37 0.39 0.38 0.36 0.37 0.38 0.41 0.41 0.40
Brown Swiss 0.27 0.27 0.28 0.27 0.29 0.29 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.30 0.29
Guernsey 0.27 0.26 0.27 0.26 0.25 0.27 0.28 0.29 0.28 0.29 0.30
Holstein 0.31 0.31 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.32 0.33 0.33 0.34 0.34
Jersey 0.40 0.39 0.39 0.39 0.40 0.41 0.42 0.43 0.42 0.41 0.41
Milking Shorthorn 0.45 0.38 0.40 0.41 0.38 0.42 0.39 0.43 0.39 0.43 0.39
Red & White 0.33 0.30 0.28 0.33 0.35 0.33 0.35 0.37 0.35 0.35 0.34

  • Jerseys, Ayrshires, and Milking Shorthorn had the highest conception rates for first breedings in 2015 at 41, 40, and 39%, respectively. The conception rates for first breedings were lowest for Brown Swiss and Guernseys at 29 and 30%. Lowest conception rates for Holsteins were in 2005 and 2006 (31%) and highest (34%) in 2014 and 2015.


 
TABLE 7. Average CONCEPTION RATES FOR ALL BREEDINGS by breed and year of first breeding.
 
SAS Output
Breed 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ayrshire 0.35 0.35 0.36 0.39 0.37 0.36 0.37 0.36 0.38 0.40 0.39
Brown Swiss 0.25 0.24 0.25 0.26 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.28 0.27 0.27
Guernsey 0.25 0.25 0.26 0.24 0.24 0.25 0.26 0.27 0.27 0.27 0.27
Holstein 0.29 0.29 0.30 0.30 0.31 0.30 0.30 0.31 0.31 0.32 0.32
Jersey 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.35 0.36 0.37 0.37 0.38 0.37 0.37 0.37
Milking Shorthorn 0.44 0.35 0.38 0.40 0.36 0.39 0.39 0.41 0.37 0.40 0.37
Red & White 0.32 0.31 0.29 0.31 0.34 0.34 0.33 0.34 0.33 0.32 0.33

  • The lowest conception rates for all breedings were betweeen 2005 and 2009 in all breeds.
  • The conception rates for all breedings in 2015 were lower (1 to 4%) than those from first breedings in all breeds. Ayrshire had the highest rate (39%) followed by Jersey and Milking Shorthorn (37%) 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 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    Ayrshire 420 421 416 418 413 418 421 417 410 410
    Brown Swiss 444 451 448 448 440 432 434 430 430 432
    Guernsey 440 438 439 441 435 432 436 432 430 429
    Holstein 423 423 418 417 412 409 408 404 403 401
    Jersey 411 411 402 400 396 393 392 390 388 391
    Milking Shorthorn 409 407 419 412 408 402 420 406 406 406
    Red & White 434 436 422 417 412 416 416 410 409 410

  • The long-term deterioration in calving interval shown by Nieuwhof et al. (1989) and Hare et al. (2006) usually continued into 2006 for several breeds but since has been reversed.
    • Holstein calving intervals averaged 423 days in 2005 and 2006 but improved to 401 days by 2014.
    • Jersey calving intervals decreased from 411 days in 2005 and 2006 to 391 days in 2014.
    • Brown Swiss calving intervals improved from 451 days in 2006 to 432 days in 2014.
  • 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 reproduction records available through DHIA nearly doubled from 2005 to 2015 revealing that more dairy producers are taking advantage of this management option.
  • Over 90% of the reproductive data each year came from the Holstein breed.

A) AYRSHIRE
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 3,630 3,732 3,636 3,553 3,195 3,718 3,631 3,789 3,499 3,263 3,261
Days from calving to first breeding 3,748 3,854 3,750 3,713 3,308 3,864 3,791 3,929 3,605 3,382 3,384
Days from calving to last breeding 2,644 2,652 2,698 2,614 2,366 2,672 2,673 2,768 2,639 2,502 2,387
Days from first to last breeding 3,630 3,732 3,636 3,553 3,195 3,718 3,631 3,789 3,499 3,263 3,261
Conception rate for first breedings 3,356 3,458 3,356 3,196 2,916 3,392 3,367 3,484 3,222 3,027 2,954
Conception rate for all breedings 7,550 7,845 7,290 7,013 6,113 7,568 7,351 7,664 6,996 6,263 6,194
Calving interval 1,911 1,905 1,750 1,686 1,558 1,867 1,947 1,916 1,726 1,710 1,321





B) BROWN SWISS
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 9,591 9,356 9,727 9,979 9,625 10,174 10,339 10,118 9,825 9,769 10,287
Days from calving to first breeding 9,956 9,699 10,093 10,346 10,028 10,526 10,730 10,511 10,167 10,091 10,668
Days from calving to last breeding 5,951 5,866 6,261 6,422 6,285 6,780 6,831 6,690 6,609 6,466 6,651
Days from first to last breeding 9,591 9,356 9,727 9,979 9,625 10,174 10,339 10,118 9,825 9,769 10,287
Conception rate for first breedings 8,935 8,782 9,176 9,184 8,988 9,491 9,702 9,488 9,229 9,000 9,553
Conception rate for all breedings 23,471 23,961 25,266 25,357 23,964 24,769 25,292 24,697 23,890 23,818 24,655
Calving interval 4,719 4,682 5,049 4,897 5,037 5,369 5,206 5,146 5,027 5,116 4,439





C) GUERNSEY
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 3,870 3,535 3,500 3,479 3,220 3,612 3,405 3,262 3,020 3,017 3,096
Days from calving to first breeding 4,053 3,672 3,650 3,620 3,350 3,768 3,549 3,382 3,118 3,126 3,193
Days from calving to last breeding 2,553 2,332 2,338 2,207 2,072 2,374 2,227 2,178 2,048 2,009 2,047
Days from first to last breeding 3,870 3,535 3,500 3,479 3,220 3,612 3,405 3,262 3,020 3,017 3,096
Conception rate for first breedings 3,641 3,332 3,185 3,064 2,959 3,296 3,092 2,989 2,737 2,734 2,782
Conception rate for all breedings 10,138 9,538 9,359 9,111 8,848 9,272 8,594 8,057 7,717 7,547 7,649
Calving interval 1,911 1,706 1,673 1,531 1,620 1,645 1,543 1,457 1,468 1,486 1,260





D) HOLSTEIN
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 1,031,086 1,085,585 1,359,316 1,405,312 1,443,030 1,676,312 1,736,070 1,815,030 1,849,118 1,935,557 2,001,165
Days from calving to first breeding 1,066,324 1,120,942 1,400,528 1,449,981 1,487,632 1,726,836 1,787,066 1,871,087 1,903,955 1,989,510 2,060,000
Days from calving to last breeding 767,497 808,835 1,027,956 1,068,010 1,100,538 1,281,813 1,323,552 1,388,931 1,418,533 1,489,584 1,542,712
Days from first to last breeding 1,031,086 1,085,585 1,359,316 1,405,312 1,443,030 1,676,312 1,736,070 1,815,030 1,849,118 1,935,557 2,001,165
Conception rate for first breedings 1,005,555 1,039,116 1,275,690 1,341,773 1,392,486 1,618,406 1,690,263 1,766,402 1,806,575 1,883,249 1,944,455
Conception rate for all breedings 2,602,359 2,750,877 3,367,156 3,558,362 3,577,835 4,160,357 4,365,284 4,500,416 4,566,911 4,684,616 4,838,573
Calving interval 537,405 590,495 728,918 747,588 794,526 893,308 928,788 966,524 996,719 1,038,819 1,059,270





E) JERSEY
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 51,362 53,697 88,638 94,961 104,006 128,052 147,164 156,432 167,057 178,041 175,056
Days from calving to first breeding 53,424 55,718 91,814 98,219 107,057 132,028 151,818 162,260 172,205 183,455 180,946
Days from calving to last breeding 41,334 42,342 70,542 76,468 85,399 106,686 121,749 128,572 137,014 144,344 137,993
Days from first to last breeding 51,362 53,697 88,638 94,961 104,006 128,052 147,164 156,432 167,057 178,041 175,056
Conception rate for first breedings 49,636 51,670 80,849 89,698 98,710 119,821 137,732 144,558 152,415 159,619 145,793
Conception rate for all breedings 114,623 121,901 194,541 221,093 234,817 281,657 322,522 336,179 361,698 390,354 378,543
Calving interval 29,222 30,786 49,237 53,237 58,124 75,618 80,718 86,637 91,744 92,835 81,362





F) MILKING SHORTHORN
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 560 454 783 815 696 927 1,002 1,232 1,098 1,100 1,065
Days from calving to first breeding 604 480 801 854 720 955 1,052 1,279 1,159 1,175 1,107
Days from calving to last breeding 377 292 507 574 475 648 717 869 764 767 722
Days from first to last breeding 560 454 783 815 696 927 1,002 1,232 1,098 1,100 1,065
Conception rate for first breedings 469 383 667 725 618 803 854 1,086 974 989 924
Conception rate for all breedings 869 761 1,316 1,448 1,325 1,661 1,830 2,094 2,024 1,936 1,942
Calving interval 169 203 325 307 305 382 491 488 452 456 404





G) RED & WHITE
 
SAS Output
Trait 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Breedings per conception 1,219 1,100 1,377 1,291 1,166 1,202 1,195 1,135 1,201 1,080 1,144
Days from calving to first breeding 1,260 1,137 1,405 1,325 1,207 1,253 1,250 1,176 1,237 1,109 1,186
Days from calving to last breeding 853 763 980 888 865 910 820 828 851 789 830
Days from first to last breeding 1,219 1,100 1,377 1,291 1,166 1,202 1,195 1,135 1,201 1,080 1,144
Conception rate for first breedings 1,105 987 1,246 1,204 1,080 1,144 1,125 1,046 1,129 1,020 1,067
Conception rate for all breedings 2,646 2,440 3,298 2,950 2,527 2,731 2,604 2,376 2,531 2,518 2,490
Calving interval 513 533 685 582 564 578 578 567 564 580 520



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