Associations among patterns in daily body weight, body condition scoring, and reproductive performance in high-producing dairy cows Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective was to investigate the associations between body condition scores (BCS) and daily body weight (BW) in the first 150 d of lactation (DIM) and reproductive performance in high-producing dairy cows. Data included automated daily BW measurements and BCS of 2,020 Israeli Holstein cows from 7 commercial farms. Individual BW series were smoothed using penalized cubic splines, and variables representing BW patterns were generated. The presence of 7- and 21-d cycles in BW was determined using time-series analysis. Associations between BW and BCS and conception at first artificial insemination (AI) were analyzed using generalized estimating equations. Multivariate survival analysis was used for associations between BW and BCS and the calving-to-first AI interval, first AI-to-conception interval, and calving-to-conception interval. First-parity cows that lost >or=12% and second-parity cows that lost >or=15% of their BW from calving to nadir BW were less likely to conceive at first AI. Cows without 7-d cycles in BW were 1.48 times more likely to conceive at first AI relative to cows with 7-d cycles. The odds of conceiving at first AI increased by 53% for each additional unit in BCS from 40 to 60 DIM. In the multivariate survival analysis, a BCS of or=7% from calving to 10 DIM were associated with reduced reproductive performance. The presence of 21-d cycles in BW was associated with high reproductive performance in first-parity [odds ratio (OR) = 1.18] and second-parity cows (OR = 1.22). The presence of 7-d cycles in BW was associated with low reproductive performance in first-parity cows (OR = 0.77), but not in older cows. Based on previous findings and on the associations found in this study, we postulate that 21-d cycles are probably related to the sexual cycle and could be used as a proxy for assessing ovarian activity. Variables representing relative BW loss (%) were better predictors for impaired reproductive performance than those representing absolute BW loss (kg) and may be more suitable for estimating individual adaptation to negative energy balance in herds for which automated daily BW is available.

publication date

  • September 1, 2009