On-farm deaths of dairy cows are associated with features of freestall barns

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Sarjokari , K , Hovinen , M , Seppä-Lassila , L , Norring , M , Hurme , T , Peltoniemi , O A T , Soveri , T & Rajala-Schultz , P J 2018 , ' On-farm deaths of dairy cows are associated with features of freestall barns ' , Journal of Dairy Science , vol. 101 , no. 7 , pp. 6253-6261 . https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13420

Title: On-farm deaths of dairy cows are associated with features of freestall barns
Author: Sarjokari, K.; Hovinen, M.; Seppä-Lassila, L.; Norring, M.; Hurme, T.; Peltoniemi, O.A.T.; Soveri, T.; Rajala-Schultz, P.J.
Contributor organization: Production Animal Medicine
Departments of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Animal Reproduction Science
Date: 2018-07
Language: eng
Number of pages: 9
Belongs to series: Journal of Dairy Science
ISSN: 0022-0302
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2017-13420
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/308180
Abstract: ABSTRACT On-farm death (OFD) of a dairy cow is always a financial loss for a farmer, and potentially a welfare issue that has to be addressed within the dairy industry. The aim of this study was to explore the associations between OFD of dairy cows, housing, and herd management in freestall barns. To achieve the goal, we followed 10,837 cows calving in 2011 in 82 herds. Data were gathered with observations and a structured interview during farm visits and from a national dairy herd improvement database. The hazard of OFD was modeled with a shared frailty survival model, with SAS 9.3 PHREG procedure (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). The study population was 58% Ayrshire and 42% Holstein cows. The median herd size and mean milk yield in the study herds were 116 cows and 9,151 kg of milk per cow per year. The overall probability of OFD was 6.0%; 1.8% of the cows died unassisted and 4.2% were euthanized. Variation in OFD percentage between individual herds was large, from 0 to 16%, accounting for 0 to 58% of all removals in the herds. Keeping close-up dry cows in an own group was associated with higher hazard of OFD [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.37] compared with keeping them in the same pen with far-off dry cows. Higher hazard on OFD was observed when barns had only one kind of calving pens; single (HR = 2.09) or group pens (HR = 1.72), compared with having both of those types. The hazard of OFD was lower if the whole herd was housed in barns or pens that had only 1 type of feed barrier at the feed bunk, namely post-and-rail (HR = 0.51) or a type with barriers between the cow's heads (HR = 0.49), compared with having 2 types. Lower OFD hazard was observed with wider than 340 cm of walking alley next to the feeding table (HR = 0.75), and with housing a whole herd in pens with only 1 type of walking alley surface, specifically slatted (HR = 0.53) or solid (HR = 0.48), compared with having both types. The hazard of OFD was higher with stalls wider than 120 cm (HR = 1.38) compared with narrower stalls. The hazard of OFD was also associated with breed, parity, and calving season. This study identified many factors that contribute to the incidence of OFD of dairy cows. The solutions for reducing on-farm mortality include housing, management, and breeding choices that are most probably herd specific.
Subject: dairy cow
adult cattle mortality
412 Animal science, dairy science
413 Veterinary science
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: other
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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