Holstein dairy cows lose body condition score and gain body weight with increasing parity in both pasture-based and total mixed ration herds
Lean, I.J.; Sheedy, D.B.; LeBlanc, S.J.; Duffield, T.; Santos, J.E.P.; Golder, H.M.
Jds Communications 3(6): 431-435
ISSN/ISBN: 2666-9102 PMID: 36465515 Accession: 080704751
Body condition scoring (BCS) and body weight (BW) are observations associated with labile tissue reserves, health, and reproduction efficiency of dairy cows. The effect of parity (1 through to ≥5) and feeding system (pasture-based and TMR) on BCS and BW were evaluated utilizing raw data sets from 16 retrospective studies that totaled 24,807 Holstein cows across 3 nations (Australia, Canada, and the United States). Linear regression models were used to investigate the 5 outcome variables of precalving BCS, peak milk BCS, change in BCS from precalving to peak milk, and peak milk BW and their respective associations with parity and feeding system. To help control for the influence of calendar time, study treatment protocols when applicable, and genetic change, all outcome variables were center-transformed around each study group mean. Including feeding system as a covariate improved model fit for most outcome variables; however, the relative effect size of parity was generally much greater than feeding system effect size. Parity 2 cows had the lowest precalving BCS of -0.087 [95% confidence interval (CI): -0.107, -0.065] less than the mean, whereas parity 1 cows had the greatest, 0.068 (95% CI: 0.043, 0.092) above mean, regardless of feeding system. Peak milk BCS overall decreased with increasing parity (parity 1 to parity ≥5: -0.13, 95% CI: -0.19, -0.08) and BCS change during the transition period monotonically decreased with increasing parity (parity 1 to parity ≥5: -0.22, 95% CI: -0.26, -0.17). Peak milk BW monotonically increased with increased parity (parity 1 to parity ≥5: 114 kg, 95% CI: 104, 125). A waffle plot was used to present the proportions of cows, by parity, that were partitioned into "low BCS and low BW," "low BCS and high BW," "high BCS and low BW," or "high BCS and high BW" groups. Cows were assigned either a high or low status by being above or below their specific centered study group means, respectively. Considering a null hypothesis of 25% per BCS-BW category, there was a striking change in category from parity 1 cows that were predominantly in the "high BCS and low BW" category (61.2%) to parity ≥5 cows that were predominantly in the "low BCS and high BW" category (55.5%). The study supports studies showing increased weight and change in BCS with increased parity. We highlight the associations among production system, BCS, BW, and parity.