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Perinatal, neonatal, and rearing period mortality of dairy calves and replacement heifers in France

Abstract : Dairy calf and replacement heifer mortality in France was assessed by calculating mortality rates at 0 to 2 d (calves), 3 d to 1 mo (calves and heifers), 1 to 6 mo of age, and 6 mo of age to first calving (heifers) using the national identification database. Between birth and 2-d-old, 261,000 and 251,000 of the 3.56 and 3.43 million calves born in 2005 and 2006, respectively, died. The overall 0- to 2-d-old calf mortality rate was around 6.7%, which is similar to the low range of values reported in the literature. Among the 2.38 and 2.39 million calf-month, 139,000 and 133,000 died between 3 d and 1 mo of age in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Among the 3 d to 1 m of age group, dairy calf mortality rate was around 5.7%. Such a rate has not been reported previously because of the great differences in age classes between studies. For the 0- to 2-d-old and 3-d- to 1-mo-old calves, annual mortality was zero on 26 and 44% of the farms, respectively. Calf mortality during the first month of life increased in winter (to 12-17%) and decreased in summer (to 8-12%), with a small peak in June or July. Mortality during the first month of life is higher in males than in females, with a mortality odds ratio of 1.20 (and 95% confidence interval of 1.19-1.21). Such a difference is also found within the noncrossed or beef-crossed calf subpopulations. Disregarding the sex, the mortality of beef-crossed calves is slightly less than that of noncrossed dairy calves, with a mortality odds ratio of 0.98 (and 95% confidence interval of 0.98-0.99) before 1 mo of age. In heifers, around 51,000, 35,000, and 40,900 out of the 1.2 million 3-d- to 1-mo-old, 1.1 million 1- to 6-mo-old, and 950,000 6-mo-old to first calving heifers died, respectively. The respective mortality rates were 4.5, 3.1, and 4.1%; these rates are similar to the low range of values previously published. The proportions of farms with no heifer mortality during a year were higher than for calves, between 60 and 70%. The mortality probability for heifers was very high for the first day of life (95% survival between 2-30 d of age), then decreased during the first year of life and became constant up to around 3 yr of age (88% survival at 36 mo of age). The risk of mortality is higher in Montbeliarde and Normande heifers compared with Holstein. In conclusion, and beyond the average mortality rates, farmers and farm advisors should keep in mind the broad range of mortality values, which shows that very low mortality (1-2%) can be achieved, even in animals with a known high risk of mortality, such as beef-crossed dairy calves.
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Submitted on : Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 8:46:26 PM
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Didier Raboisson, F. Delor, Eric Cahuzac, Cedric Gendre, P. Sans, et al.. Perinatal, neonatal, and rearing period mortality of dairy calves and replacement heifers in France. Journal of Dairy Science, American Dairy Science Association, 2013, 96 (5), pp.2913 - 2924. ⟨10.3168/jds.2012-6010⟩. ⟨hal-02643850⟩

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