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The effects of crossbreeding with Norwegian Red dairy cattle on common postpartum diseases, fertility and body condition score

  • E. Rinell (a1) and B. Heringstad (a1)


Norwegian Red bulls, selected in Norway, have been used for crossbreeding with Israeli Holstein on commercial farms. The aim of this project was to investigate Norwegian Red×Israeli Holstein (NRX) performance to see how the daughters perform in a different environment than the one their sires were selected in. This was done by comparing health and fertility of NRX with their Israeli Holstein (HO) counterparts. The data consisted of 71 911 HO records and 10 595 NRX records from 33 855 cows in 23 Israeli dairy herds. Calving events took place between 2006 and 2016. Five postpartum disorders (mean frequency in HO v. NRX, %) recorded by veterinarians were analyzed: anestrus (37.4 v. 41.2), metritis (40.1 v. 28.6), ketosis (11.9 v. 7.1), lameness (7.1 v. 3.1) and retained placenta (6.2 v. 4.0). The incidence of abortions was also analyzed; HO had a mean frequency of 9.9% and NRX 8.2%. These traits were defined as binary traits, with ‘1’ indicating that the disorder was present and a treatment took place at least once, or ‘0’ if the cow did not show signs of that disorder. Days open (i.e. the number of days from calving to conception), body condition score (BCS) recorded on a 1 to 5 scale and changes in BCS from calving to peak lactation were also analyzed. A logistic model was used for the health traits, while days open and BCS were analyzed with linear models. The model included breed group, herd-year of calving, birth year and parity as fixed effects. There was a significantly higher risk (odds ratio for HO v. NRX in parentheses) of ketosis (1.46), metritis (1.78), lameness (2.07), retained placenta (1.41) and abortion (1.13) in HO compared with NRX. Israeli Holstein heifers and cows in parity 3 to 6 had fewer cases of anestrus than NRX but no differences were found between the groups in parities 1 and 2. Body condition score was higher for NRX than HO and there was less change in BCS from calving to peak lactation in NRX compared with HO. Likewise, NRX had fewer days open than HO. Results indicate that crossbreeding can produce cows with better fertility that are less susceptible to postpartum disorders.


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