A review and analysis on fertility and milk production in commercial dairy farms with customized lactation length during the last ten years
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Keywords:extended calving interval; extended lactation; insemination; milk yield
Approximately 150 million households around the globe are engaged in milk production. In most developing countries, milk is produced by smallholders, and milk production contributes to household livelihoods, food security and nutrition. Milk provides relatively quick returns for small-scale producers and is an important source of cash income. In recent decades, developing countries have increased their share in global dairy production. This growth is mostly the result of an increase in numbers of producing animals rather than a rise in productivity per head. In many developing countries, dairy productivity is constrained by poor-quality feed resources, diseases, limited access to markets and services (e.g., health, credit and training) and dairy animals’ low genetic potential for milk production. Unlike developed countries, many developing countries have hot and/or humid climates that are unfavourable for dairying. Traditionally, dairy farmers are recommended to aim for a 1-yr calving interval, as this would maximize milk production and income. Longer calving intervals would extend the period in late lactation, when milk production is lower. However, there may be several reasons to re-evaluate the traditional lactation length, including increased productivity of modern dairy cows, and potential benefits of longer lactations for cow health and welfare. Moreover, although farmers are advised to aim for a 1-yr calving interval, in practice calving intervals mostly exceed 1 yr. Some cows might be better suited for an extended CInt than others, due to differences in milk yield level, lactation persistency, or health status, which would justify a customized CInt based on individual cow characteristics. This study aims to investigate 13 farms with customized CInt, with respect to calving to first service interval (CFSI), accomplished CInt, services per conception (SC), conception rate at first artificial insemination (CR1AI), peak yield, lactation persistency, 305-d yield, and effective lactation yield. In total, 4,858 complete lactations of Holstein Friesian cows between 2012 and 2022 from the 13 farms were grouped by parity and CFSI or CInt.
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