Season of birth affects 305d milk and fat yield during first lactation in HF heifers

Mieke Van Eetvelde, Marie Pierre, Leen Vandaele, Geert Opsomer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingC3: Conference Abstractpeer-review


    In cattle, as in several other species, both the pre- and early postnatal environment are known to have long-term consequences on the health and production of the offspring. The aim of the present study was to assess environmental (season of birth and calving) and offspring (weight and gender) effects on the milk yield during first lactation in Holstein Friesian (HF) heifers. Seventy-nine female HF calves were followed from birth until second parturition in 3 herds in Flanders (Belgium). Body weight was collected at birth and first parturition, as well as gender and birth weight of their offspring. Season of birth and calving were grouped as follows: Winter (21 December to 20 March), Spring (21 March to 20 June), Summer (21 June to 20 September) and Fall (21 September to 20 December). After second parturition, 305 days milk as well as fat and protein yields of the first lactation were calculated based on monthly milk recordings. Linear mixed models, with herd as a random factor, were built to assess the factors influencing first lactation yield and results are presented as LSMeans. Most heifers were born during Fall (44%) and Spring (24%), with only 17% and 15% of heifers born in Winter and Summer, respectively. Heifers calved at an age of 24.7±2.02 months, weighing on average 643±61.0 kg. At first parturition, 40 female and 39 male calves were born with an average birth weight of 40.3±50.56 kg, while in the subsequent lactation, heifers produced a 305 d milk yield of 8,348±1,230.4 kg, with 4.2±0.47% fat and 3.5±0.21% protein. Weight at calving had a significant effect on the first lactation 305 d milk yield, with heavier heifers producing more milk (P=0.002). Milk yield was also affected by season of birth, with the lowest production in heifers born in Winter (7,818±677.3 kg) and a significantly higher production in heifers born in Fall (8,745±634.5 kg; P=0.04). Despite the fact that the season of birth and calving was identical for most (65%) of the heifers, calving season did not have a significant effect on milk yield. Finally, heifers born in Summer produced milk with a fat content of 4.4±0.19%, compared to only 4.0±0.15% in heifers born in Fall (P=0.04). Results of the study suggest season of birth rather than season of calving to influence first lactation milk and fat yield in HF heifers. As milk yield was lowest in heifers born during colder and darker days while highest in heifers
    born during longer and hotter days, the effect of birth season might be attributed to differences in temperature or photoperiod at the end of their term in utero.
    Original languageDutch
    Title of host publicationProceedings 16th International Conference on Animal Production Diseases : 8th European Symposium of Pocine Health Management
    Number of pages1
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Publication dateJun-2016
    ISBN (Print)978-90-8686-285-6
    ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-831-5
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2016
    Event16th International Conference On Animal Production Diseases: ICPD - WUR, Wageningen, Netherlands
    Duration: 20-Jun-201623-Jun-2016


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