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Influence of production, reproduction, morphology, and health traits on true and functional longevity in French Holstein cows

Abstract : In the long term, resilient animals are able to maintain their normal biological processes when confronted with environmental perturbations, reducing their risk of being culled. Therefore, longevity can be proposed as an indicator of long-term resilience. Decisions to remove a given dairy cow from the herd are mainly related to low milk production (i.e., voluntary culling) or to reasons other than production (i.e., involuntary culling). The aptitude of animals to delay any culling is defined as true longevity (TL), whereas functional longevity (FL) is the ability to avoid involuntary culling. The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of production, reproduction, morphology, and health traits on TL and FL, to identify risk factors for culling. Data included 278,217 lactations from 122,461 Holstein Friesian cows reared in 640 herds. The length of productive life, calculated as the time between first calving and culling, or censoring, was used as the measure of longevity. Survival analysis was performed using proportional hazards models assuming a piecewise Weibull distribution of the baseline hazard function, with or without adjustment for milk production to evaluate FL and TL. Insemination status, calving ease, mastitis, somatic cell count, displaced abomasum, and udder depth had significant relationships with TL and FL. Differences in estimates of relative risk between TL and FL showed that milk production often influenced culling decisions: farmers are more prone to cull animals with low production even when they had good other characteristics. The culling risk factors identified in the present study can be used to study resilience in dairy cattle and to improve genetic evaluations of functional or total longevity.
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Submitted on : Monday, January 17, 2022 - 9:14:45 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 3:31:18 AM
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Roberta Rostellato, J. Promp, H. Leclerc, S. Mattalia, Nicolas Friggens, et al.. Influence of production, reproduction, morphology, and health traits on true and functional longevity in French Holstein cows. Journal of Dairy Science, 2021, 104 (12), pp.12664-12678. ⟨10.3168/jds.2020-19974⟩. ⟨hal-03528049⟩



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