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Associations between milk protein concentration, milk yield, and reproductive performance in dairy cows
- Morton, J.M., Auldist, M.J., Douglas, M.L., Macmillan, K.L.
- Journal of dairy science 2016 v.99 no.12 pp. 10033-10043
- Holstein, calving, cohort studies, dairy cows, dairy herds, dairy protein, data collection, early lactation, milk, milk yield, regression analysis, reproductive performance
- Milk protein concentration in dairy cows has been positively associated with a range of measures of reproductive performance. It was possible that these associations were due to confounding by milk volume. A retrospective single cohort study was conducted using data collected from 74 dairy herds with seasonal or split calving patterns. Associations between milk protein concentration and reproductive performance in Holstein dairy cows were assessed using random effects logistic regression. The key finding from this study was that the associations between milk protein concentration in early lactation and reproductive performance were not due to confounding by milk yield. Associations between milk protein concentration and reproductive performance were weaker at higher early lactation milk yields, but positive associations were evident at all milk volumes assessed. The second major finding was that increases in milk yield were associated with improved proportions of cows pregnant by wk 6 and 21 at low to moderate milk protein concentrations but with decreases in these reproductive measures at high milk protein concentrations. Thus, no simple relationship is present between milk yield and reproductive performance; effects of milk yield depend on milk protein concentration. These results indicate that mechanisms causing the associations between milk protein concentration and reproductive performance may be linked to milk yield but these mechanisms operate over a wide range of milk yields (<2,000 to ≥5,000kg in the first 120d of lactation). Further research is required to identify the causes of these associations.