The effects of days-open on milk yields in current lactations and in following lactations were estimated from 71 911 current and 68 693 following lactation records. Yields were expressed as 305-day, total and annual records, where annual record = 365 × (total yield/days between calvings).
The data were grouped according to current days-open, corrected for initial yield differences and analysed separately for heifers and cows in Moshav (moderate-yielding) and Kibbutz (high-yielding) herds. Current 305-day records increased by 15 to 18 kg milk/day-open up to 90 days-open, and 2 to 3 kg/day-open thereafter. In contrast, the effects of increasing days-open on annual yields were generally small and negative, being positive only for heifers up to 90 days-open. Thus 305-day records heavily under-rated annual yields of fertile cows. For current lactations, 70 to 100 days-open for heifers and 30 to 50 days-open for cows resulted in the highest annual production. Yields in following lactations were positively associated with days-open in the previous lactation. The effect was highest in high-yielding herds, suggesting that high-yielding cows respond positively to some rest between calvings.
Combining the effects of days-open on current and following lactation yields and on the calf crop: in high-yielding herds heifers had the highest productivity when mated not earlier than 70 days post partum, while in moderately-yielding herds days-open did not affect productivity. Cows in high-yielding herds achieved highest productivity at 41 to 90 days-open, while cows in moderately-yielding herds were most productive when mated as early as possible.
A comparison of the economic value of sire fertility and sire transmitting ability for milk production showed that fertility may often be over-rated.