Association between days post conception and lactation persistency in dairy cattle

Y Chen*, W Steeneveld, K Frankena, I Leemans, H Aardema, P L A M Vos, M Nielen, M Hostens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Determining the optimal insemination moment for individual cows is complex, particularly when considering the impact of pregnancy on milk production. The effect of pregnancy on the absolute milk yield has already been reported in several studies. Currently, there is limited quantitative knowledge about the association between days post conception (DPC) and lactation persistency, based on a lactation curve model, and, specifically, how persistency changes during pregnancy and relates to the days in milk at conception (DIMc). Understanding this association might provide valuable insights to determine the optimal insemination moment. This study, therefore, aimed to investigate the association between DPC and lactation persistency, with an additional focus on the influence of DIMc. Available milk production data from 2005 to 2022 were available for 23,908 cows from 87 herds located throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. Persistency was measured by a lactation curve characteristic decay, representing the time taken to halve milk production after peak yield. Decay was calculated for 8 DPC (0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180 and 210 d after DIMc) and served as the dependent variable. Independent variables included DPC, DIMc (< = 60, 61-90, 91-120, 121-150, 151-180, 181-210, > 210), parity group, DPC × parity group, DPC × DIMc and variables from 30 d before DIMc as covariates. The results showed an increase in decay, i.e., a decrease in persistency, during pregnancy for both parity groups, albeit in different ways. Specifically, from DPC 150 to DPC 210, multiparous cows showed a higher decline in persistency compared with primiparous cows. Furthermore, a later DIMc (cows conceiving later) was associated with higher persistency. Except for the early DIMc groups (DIMc < 90), DIMc does not impact the change in persistency by gestation. The findings from this study contribute to a better understanding of how DPC and DIMc during lactation influence lactation persistency, enabling more informed decision-making by farmers who wish to take persistency into account in their reproduction management.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2024


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