Lactation curves for milk traits, live weight and body condition score for heavy and light Holstein-Friesian cows

Lopez Villalobos, N.; Lemus Ramirez, V.; Holmes, C.W.; Garrick, D.J.

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 61: 217-220


Accession: 003487588

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Two genetic lines of Holstein-Friesian cows divergently selected for heavy and light live weight but with similar genetic merit for farm profitability have been developed at Massey University since 1989. The objective of this experimental project was to evaluate differences in production, fertility and feed efficiency between the 2 lines when they are managed on grazed pasture and submitted to a seasonal system of reproduction. This paper describe the shapes of the lactation curves for yields of milk, fat and protein, liveweight and body condition score of the 2 lines using the gamma function. Parameters of the gamma function for each of the traits were estimated for each of 84 cows using daily yields of milk, fat and protein and weekly measurements of liveweight and body condition scores recorded during the production season between 1998 and 1999. Liveweights and body condition scores of mature heavy and light cows at calving were 495 and 436 kg and 4.7 and 4.8 units, respectively. Respective values for first-calving cows were 397 and 352 kg liveweight and 4.9 and 4.9 units of body condition score. Peak yields of milk, fat and protein for mature heavy (27.6 litres, 1.30 kg and 0.90 kg) were higher than for mature light (25.6 litres, 1.21 kg and 0.86 kg) cows but differences were not significant. Peaks of yield occurred between 27 and 31 days after calving with no significant differences between lines of cows. There were no significant differences between lines for changes in body condition score and persistency of milk, fat and protein production during lactation of mature cows. Compared to mature cows, first-calving cows had lower peak yields of milk, fat and protein. First-calving light cows were the most persistent and maintained the highest body condition score during lactation. Total predicted yields of milk, fat and protein for mature heavy (4048 litres, 194 kg and 133 kg) were not significantly different from those for mature light (3774 litres, 182 kg and 127 kg) cows. These results show that there are no significant differences in the shape of the lactation curve for heavy or light mature cows, but first-calving light cows maintained higher body condition score in late lactation.