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Extending the duration of the voluntary waiting period from 60 to 88 days in cows that received timed artificial insemination after the Double-Ovsynch protocol affected the reproductive performance, herd exit dynamics, and lactation performance of dairy cows

Stangaferro, M.L., Wijma, R., Masello, M., Thomas, Mark J., Giordano, J.O.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.1 pp. 717-735
animal ovaries, artificial insemination, body condition, cell biology, commercial farms, confidence interval, dairy cows, estrus, haptoglobins, herds, inflammation, lactating females, lactation, milk, milk yield, ovulation, periodicity, physiological state, pregnancy, progesterone, reproductive performance, risk, statistical analysis, New York
This experiment evaluated the reproductive performance, herd exit dynamics, and lactation performance of dairy cows managed with a voluntary waiting period (VWP) of 60 or 88 d. Secondary objectives were evaluating VWP effect on cyclicity status, uterine health, systemic inflammation, and body condition score (BCS) before first service. Lactating Holstein cows from 3 commercial farms in New York State cows were blocked by parity group and total milk yield in their previous lactation and then randomly assigned to VWP of 60 (VWP60; n = 1,352) or 88 (VWP88; n = 1,359) days in milk (DIM). All cows received the Double-Ovsynch protocol (GnRH-7 d-PGF2α-3 d-GnRH-7 d-GnRH-7 d-PGF2α-56 h-GnRH-16 to 20 h-timed artificial insemination; TAI) for synchronization of ovulation and TAI. For second and greater artificial insemination (AI), cows received AI after detection of estrus or the Ovsynch protocol (GnRH-7 d-PGF2α-56 h-GnRH-16 to 20 h-TAI) initiated 32 ± 3 d after AI for cows not re-inseminated at detected estrus. Cyclicity status (progesterone concentration), uterine health (vaginal discharge and uterine cytology), BCS, and systemic inflammation (haptoglobin concentration) were evaluated at baseline (33 ± 3 DIM for both treatments), beginning of the Double-Ovsynch protocol, and 10 d before TAI. Effects of treatments were assessed with multivariable statistical methods relevant for each outcome variable. Extending duration of VWP from 60 to 88 DIM increased pregnancies per AI (P/AI) to first service (VWP60 = 41%; VWP88 = 47%). Nonetheless, the greatest benefit of extending VWP on first-service P/AI was for primiparous cows (VWP60 = 46%; VWP88 = 55%), as P/AI did not differ within the multiparous cow group (VWP60 = 36%; VWP88 = 40%). Physiological status more conducive to pregnancy—characterized by improved uterine health, greater BCS, reduced systemic inflammation, and to a lesser extent more time to resume ovarian cyclicity—explained the increment in P/AI to first service. Our data also indicated that despite having greater P/AI to first service, cows with the longer VWP had delayed time to pregnancy during lactation (hazard ratio = 0.72; 95% confidence interval 0.69–0.98) and greater risk of leaving the herd, particularly for multiparous cows (hazard ratio = 1.34; 95% confidence interval 1.23–1.47). This shift in pregnancy timing led to an overall extension of the lactation length (+13 d), which resulted in greater total milk yield per lactation (+491 kg) but not greater milk yield per day of lactation. In conclusion, data from this experiment highlight the importance of considering the complex interactions between reproductive performance, herd exit dynamics, and lactation performance as well as the effects of parity at the time of defining the duration of the VWP for lactating dairy cows.