Effect of heat stress on nonreturn rate in Holsteins: fixed-model analyses

O Ravagnolo, I Misztal
Journal of Dairy Science 2002, 85 (11): 3101-6
The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between reproductive traits and heat stress. Nonreturn rate at 45 d (NR45) was analyzed in a fixed-effect model that included the temperature-humidity index (THI) from a nearby weather station as a measurement of heat stress. Data consisted of 150,200 first inseminations at first and later parities of 110,860 Holstein cows from 550 herds in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida with weather information from 16 weather stations. THI on the day of the insemination, 2 d prior, 5 d prior, 5, 10, 20, and 30 d after insemination were studied as independent variables. The THI on the day of insemination showed the highest effect on NR45, followed by 2 d prior, 5 d prior, and 5 d after insemination, but no relationship was found with THI at 10, 20, and 30 d after insemination. NR45 showed a decrease of 0.005 per unit increase in THI on the day of insemination for THI >68. First and later parities presented similar thresholds but responded differently to an increase in THI, with NR45 being significantly lower and more susceptible to increases of THI in cows in their first parity than in later parities (0.008 vs. 0.005 decrease). Threshold for sensitivity to heat stress changed with the states, with Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee having thresholds of 70, 70, and 66, respectively. The decrease in NR45 per unit increase of THI was 0.007, 0.005, and 0.006 for Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, respectively. With respect to only the Florida data, the final fixed-effect model used was NR45 = herd(year) + month(year) + month(year) + age(parity) + days in milk + 100d milk + THI + error. Animals with more than 150 d in milk (DIM) had a 0.16 lower NR45 than animals with less than 60 DIM at insemination. Lower milk-producing animals showed 0.08 higher NR45 than higher-producing animals. A difference of 0.10 in NR45 was observed between THI lower than 70 and THI 84. This variation in NR45 caused by THI changes is sufficient to merit further studies to examine genetic components of heat tolerance for this trait.

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