Prediction of the lifetime productive and reproductive performance of Holstein cows managed for different lactation durations, using a model of lifetime nutrient partitioning
Gaillard, C.; Martin, O.; Blavy, P.; Friggens, N.C.; Sehested, J.; Phuong, H.N.
Journal of Dairy Science 99(11): 9126-9135
The GARUNS model is a lifetime performance model taking into account the changing physiological priorities of an animal during its life and through repeated reproduction cycles. This dynamic and stochastic model has been previously used to predict the productive and reproductive performance of various genotypes of cows across feeding systems. In the present paper, we used this model to predict the lifetime productive and reproductive performance of Holstein cows for different lactation durations, with the aim of determining the lifetime scenario that optimizes cows' performance defined by lifetime efficiency (ratio of total milk energy yield to total energy intake) and pregnancy rate. To evaluate the model, data from a 16-mo extended lactation experiment on Holstein cows were used. Generally, the model could consistently fit body weight, milk yield, and milk components of these cows, whereas the reproductive performance was overestimated. Cows managed for repeated 12-, 14-, or 16-mo lactation all their life were simulated and had the highest lifetime efficiency compared with shorter (repeated 10-mo lactations: scenario N-N) or longer lactations (repeated 18-, 20-, or 22-mo lactations). The pregnancy rates increased slightly from a 10-mo to a 16-mo lactation but not significantly. Cows managed for a 16-mo lactation during their first lactation, followed by 10-mo lactations for the rest of their lives (EL-N scenario), had a similar lifetime efficiency as cows managed for 16-mo lactation all of their lives (EL-EL scenario). Cows managed for a 10-mo lactation during their first lactation, followed by 16-mo lactations for the rest of their lives (N-EL scenario), had a similar lifetime efficiency as that of the N-N scenario. The pregnancy rates of these 4 scenarios (N-N, EL-EL, N-EL, and EL-N) were similar to one another. To conclude, the GARUNS model was able to fit and simulate the extended lactation of Holstein cows. The simulated outputs indicate that managing the primiparous cows with a 16-mo extended lactation, followed by 10-mo lactations, allows their lifetime efficiency to increase and become similar to cows managed for 16-mo lactation during their entire lives. Further work should include health incidence (i.e., diseases) in the prediction model to have more accurate and realistic predictions of lifetime efficiency.