Late embryonic losses in supplemented grazing lactating dairy cows: Risk factors and reproductive performance
Review articleOpen access

ABSTRACTThe main objective of this study was to evaluate the risk factors for late embryonic loss (LEL) in supplemented grazing dairy cows. Additional objectives were to assess the incidence of LEL and its association with the reproductive performance of cows. A data set containing productive, reproductive, and health records of 13,551 lactations was used. A retrospective case-control study involving 631 cows with LEL (cases) and 2,524 controls (4 controls per case within each study year) was run. A case of LEL was defined when the embryo had no heartbeat or there was evidence of detached membranes or floating structures including embryo remnants by ultrasonography (US) at 28 to 42 d post-artificial insemination (AI), whereas a non-case was defined as a cow diagnosed with positive pregnancy by US 28 to 42 d post-AI and reconfirmed as pregnant 90 ± 7 d post-AI. Four controls per case were randomly selected from the non-cases with a temporal matching criterion (±3 d around the date of the fecundating AI of the case). Multivariable logistic models were offered with the following predictors: year of LEL (2011 through 2015), season of LEL (summer vs. fall vs. winter vs. spring), parity (1 vs. 2 vs. ≥3), uterine disease (UD), non-uterine disease (NUD), body condition score at parturition, body condition score at 28 to 42 d post-AI (BCS-LEL), days in milk (DIM), and daily milk yield (MY). Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05 and a tendency was set at P ≤ 0.10. We found that 4.7, 22, and 23% of cows had LEL, UD, and NUD, respectively. Cases tended to have higher daily MY than controls (32.5 vs. 31.8 kg); also, cases had much longer calving to pregnancy interval (226 vs. 118 d), lower hazard of pregnancy [hazard ratio = 0.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.35–0.43], and higher odds for non-pregnancy [odds ratio (OR) = 2.89, 95% CI = 2.37–3.54] than controls. We found that the odds for LEL increased with parity number (OR = 2.48, 95% CI = 1.99–3.08 for parity ≥3) and with BCS-LEL <2.50 (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.33–2.47). Conversely, the odds for LEL decreased with BCS-LEL >3.00 (OR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.53–0.91). The odds for LEL increased with UD (OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.01–1.49), NUD (OR = 1.24, 95% CI = 1.01–1.54), DIM (OR = 1.03, 95% CI = 1.00–1.05), and daily MY (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.04–1.25) in univariable models only. Finally, the odds for LEL were not associated with year, season, DIM, and body condition score at parturition. In conclusion, LEL is associated with extended calving to pregnancy interval, and among its risk factors are parity number and BCS-LEL.

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