Reproductive Performance of Dairy Cows in New Zealand

Final report of the monitoring fertility project

Zhenzhong Xu and Lindsay Burton

Research and Development Group

Livestock Improvement Corporation

Private Bag 3016

Hamilton, New Zealand

Ph: 64-7-856 0698

Email: zxu@lic.co.nz

16 June, 2003
Table of contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY................................................................................................ 4
Anoestrus ........................................................................................................................ 4
Submission rate .............................................................................................................. 4
Conception rate to first AI................................................................................................ 5
Pregnancy rate in 42 days .............................................................................................. 5
Final in-calf rate............................................................................................................... 6
Relationship between protein percentage and reproductive performance...................... 6
Factors affecting reproductive performance at herd level ............................................... 7
Diseases and health problems........................................................................................ 8
General conclusions........................................................................................................ 9
ACKNOWLEDGMENT ................................................................................................ 11
INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 12
Herds involved in the study ........................................................................................... 12
Statistical analysis......................................................................................................... 14
ANOESTROUS COW TREATMENT ............................................................................... 15
Level of usage of anoestrus treatment.......................................................................... 15
Statistical analysis......................................................................................................... 16
Season .......................................................................................................................... 16
Region........................................................................................................................... 16
Herd type....................................................................................................................... 16
Age and breed............................................................................................................... 17
Time of calving .............................................................................................................. 17
Time of anoestrus treatment ......................................................................................... 18
Difficult calving, twinning and induction......................................................................... 18
Reproductive performance of treated anoestrous cows................................................ 18
Oestrus response rate............................................................................................... 19
Conception rate at induced oestrus .......................................................................... 19
SUBMISSION RATE ................................................................................................... 20
Statistical analysis......................................................................................................... 20
Season .......................................................................................................................... 20
Region........................................................................................................................... 21
Breed and age............................................................................................................... 21
Time of calving .............................................................................................................. 22
Anoestrus treatment...................................................................................................... 22
Induction........................................................................................................................ 22
Calving difficulty and twinning ....................................................................................... 22
SPS versus non-SPS herds .......................................................................................... 22
CONCEPTION RATE TO FIRST ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION (AI) ....................................... 23
Raw conception rate to first AI ...................................................................................... 23
Statistical analyses........................................................................................................ 23
Season .......................................................................................................................... 24
Region........................................................................................................................... 24
Age................................................................................................................................ 24
Breed............................................................................................................................. 25
Age by breed interactions ............................................................................................. 25
SPS versus non-SPS herds .......................................................................................... 25
Induction........................................................................................................................ 25
Twinning and calving difficulty....................................................................................... 26
Anoestrus treatment...................................................................................................... 26
Time of calving .............................................................................................................. 26
Day of AI ....................................................................................................................... 26
Day of week .................................................................................................................. 27

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PREGNANCY RATE IN THE FIRST 42 DAYS OF THE BREEDING SEASON .......................... 28
Raw PR42 ..................................................................................................................... 28
Statistical analysis......................................................................................................... 28
Season .......................................................................................................................... 29
Region........................................................................................................................... 29
Breed and age............................................................................................................... 29
Time of calving .............................................................................................................. 30
Anoestrus treatment...................................................................................................... 30
Induction........................................................................................................................ 30
Calving difficulty and twinning ....................................................................................... 30
SPS versus non-SPS herds .......................................................................................... 30
FINAL IN-CALF RATE ................................................................................................ 31
Statistical analysis......................................................................................................... 31
Season .......................................................................................................................... 31
Region........................................................................................................................... 32
Breed and age............................................................................................................... 32
Time of calving .............................................................................................................. 33
Anoestrus treatment...................................................................................................... 33
Induction........................................................................................................................ 33
Calving difficulty and twinning ....................................................................................... 33
SPS versus non-SPS herds .......................................................................................... 33
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROTEIN PERCENTAGE AND REPRODUCTION......................... 34
FACTORS AFFECTING REPRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE AT THE HERD LEVEL................... 35
Anoestrus treatment usage ........................................................................................... 36
Farm operation type ...................................................................................................... 36
Farmer age.................................................................................................................... 36
Farmer education .......................................................................................................... 36
Labour units on farm ..................................................................................................... 37
Heat detection practices................................................................................................ 37
Mob management ......................................................................................................... 38
Herd size ....................................................................................................................... 38
Milk yield ....................................................................................................................... 38
Interrelationships among various reproductive parameters .......................................... 38
General comments on herd reproductive performance................................................. 38
DISEASES AND HEALTH PROBLEMS ........................................................................... 39
Statistical analyses........................................................................................................ 39
Calving difficulty ............................................................................................................ 40
Retained placenta ......................................................................................................... 41
Metabolic diseases........................................................................................................ 42
Mastitis .......................................................................................................................... 43
Feet and leg problems (lameness)................................................................................ 44
Uterine infection ............................................................................................................ 44
Effects of diseases on reproductive performance ......................................................... 45
Submission rate ........................................................................................................ 45
Conception rate to first AI.......................................................................................... 46
Final in-calf rate......................................................................................................... 46
MISCELLANEOUS STATISTICS ................................................................................... 47
Replacement statistics .................................................................................................. 47
Pregnancy rate to AI ..................................................................................................... 49
Interval to conception .................................................................................................... 49
Calving statistics ........................................................................................................... 50
Conception pattern........................................................................................................ 51

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Executive summary

The objectives of the current study were:
• To benchmark the reproductive performance of dairy cows in New Zealand; and
• To identify factors that affect reproductive performance at both cow and herd levels

To achieve these objectives, reproductive performance data were collected from 101,185
cows over 3 seasons from 1998 to 2000. Most of the cows (78,220) were in herds that
participated in the sire-proving scheme (SPS) of Livestock Improvement. The remaining
22,965 cows were from non-SPS herds in the Waikato and Taranaki regions.

The data were analysed using the MIXED procedure of SAS and herd-season was included as
a random factor. Unless specified otherwise, results were reported as least squares means that
were generated from the analyses. When generating the least squares means, the model used
coefficients that were proportional to those found in the original data set. Nevertheless, it is
still important to know what factors had been adjusted for when producing the least squares
means.

Anoestrus
One major reproductive problem of dairy cows in New Zealand is the presence of anoestrous
cows at the start of the breeding season. In this study, about 20% of cows were found to be
anoestrous shortly before the start of the breeding season. About 81% of herds in the study
treated anoestrous cows using programmes involving progesterone. The time of treatment
varied from 10 days before to 40 days after the start of breeding. The anoestrus treatment was
effective in inducing 86% of cows to show oestrus within 7 days after treatment and the
conception rate to inseminations at the induced oestrus was 39%.

The percentage of anoestrous cows treated varied from season to season (from 19% in 1998
to 14% in 2000) and was higher in the Northland region (24%) than other regions (15% to
18%). The percentage of anoestrous cows was higher for younger cows (29% and 22% for 2-
and 3-year-old cows, respectively) than older cows (<=10% for cows aged 5 years or over).
Friesian cows had a greater anoestrus problem (19%) than Jersey (13%) and crossbred cows
(14%). Early calving cows had less anoestrus problem than late calving cows and the effect
of date of calving relative to the start of mating was more pronounced in Friesian cows than
in Jersey cows and more pronounced for cows aged 3 and 4 years than cows aged 2 years or
≥5 years. Cows that experienced calving difficulty had a higher percentage of cows treated
for anoestrus than cows that experienced no calving difficulty (19% versus 16%). Cows that
gave birth to twin calves had a higher percentage of cows treated for anoestrus than cows that
gave birth to a single calf (22% versus 16%). After adjusting for other factors such as date of
calving, induced cows had less anoestrus problem than non-induced cows (14% versus 16%).

Submission rate
The overall raw submission rate in the first 3 weeks of the breeding season was 81% with a
large variation among herds. The average raw submission rate for herds in the top quartile
was 91%, whereas that for herds in the bottom quartile was 67%.

Submission rate varied with season (from 83% in 1998 to 86% in 2000) and differed between
regions (from 81% for Northland to 87% for South Island). Submission rate was lower for
Friesian cows (83%) than for Jersey (87%) and crossbred cows (87%). Submission rate was

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low for 2- (78%) and 3-year-old cows (84%) and was highest for cows aged 4 to 7 years
(89%). Differences between breeds mainly occurred in younger (2 and 3 years) and older (≥8
years) cows. Submission rate decreased curvilinearly with decreasing interval from calving to
the start of the breeding season, with the time effect being 10% less in Jersey cows than
Friesian cows. Cows that experienced calving difficulty had a lower submission rate than
cows that experienced no calving difficulty (80% versus 85%). Cows that gave birth to twin
calves had a lower submission rate than cows that gave birth to a single calf (80% versus
85%). Induced cows had a higher submission rate than non-induced cows for Friesian (86%
versus 82%) and crossbred (89% versus 87%), but not for Jersey.

Conception rate to first AI
The overall raw conception rate to first AI was 53% with a large variation among herds. The
average raw conception rate for herds in the top quartile was 62%, whereas that for herds in
the bottom quartile was 43%. When inseminations for anoestrous cows at the induced oestrus
were excluded, the raw conception rate for cyclic cows only was 55%.

Conception rate varied with season (from 55% in 1998 to 57% in 1999) and differed between
regions (from 52% for Wellington to 57% for Taranaki). Conception rate was low in 2-year-
old cows (54%), increased sharply to reach a maximum (59%) in 4-year-old cows and then
decreased with age to 47% in cows aged 10 years and over. Jersey cows had a lower
conception rate (53%) than Friesian (56%) and crossbred (56%) cows. The poor conception
rate of Jersey cows compared with Friesian cows was more pronounced as cows became
older. Calving difficulty (50% versus 56%) and twin calving (47% versus 56%) both had an
adverse effect on conception rate. Induced cows had similar conception rate to non-induced
cows (55% versus 56%). The large difference in raw conception rate between induced and
non-induced cows (47% versus 53%) was mainly due to induced cows calved later than non-
induced cows.

A longer interval from calving to insemination was associated curvilinearly with increased
conception rate. The effect of the interval from calving to insemination on conception rate
increased with age. Within the normal range of values for intervals from calving to first
insemination, the curve did not reach a plateau, suggesting that no cows in New Zealand
could calve early enough for maximal conception rate. Conception rate was also affected by
the day of insemination after the start of the breeding season. Conception rate of cows
inseminated in the first 3 weeks of the breeding season varied little (<2%), but thereafter,
conception rate dropped sharply with increasing days from start of breeding season to first
AI. Day of the week when AI was performed had no effect on conception rate. The observed
differences in raw conception rate were mainly due to differences in the number of
inseminations in treated anoestrous cows.

Pregnancy rate in 42 days
The percentage of cows that conceive in the first 42 days of the breeding season provides a
good overall measure of reproductive performance because it measures both submission rate
and conception rate. The overall raw pregnancy rate in 42 days was 68%, with a large
variation among herds. The average raw pregnancy rate for herds in the top quartile was 78%,
whereas that for herds in the bottom quartile was 57%.

Pregnancy rate in 42 days varied a little between seasons (from 69% in 1998 to 71% in 2000)
but differed significantly between regions (from 66% for Wellington to 72% in Taranaki).

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Crossbred cows had a higher pregnancy rate (72%) than Friesian (70%) or Jersey (70%)
cows. Pregnancy rate was low in 2-year-old cows (67%), increased sharply to reach a
maximum (75%) in 4-year-old cows and then decreased with age to 61% in cows aged 10
years and over. There were significant effects of breed by age interactions. Friesian had lower
pregnancy rate than Jersey in younger cows (2- and 3-year olds), whereas Jersey had lower
pregnancy rate than Friesian in older cows (5 years and over). Crossbred cows had pregnancy
rates that were similar or better than the pure breeds at all ages. Cows that experienced
calving difficulty had a lower pregnancy rate in 42 days than cows that experienced no
calving difficulty (63% versus 71%). Cows that gave birth to twin calves had a lower
pregnancy rate in 42 days than cows that gave birth to a single calf (64% versus 71%).
Induction had no effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days. Cows that were treated for anoestrus
had lower pregnancy rate (56%) than cows in the same herds that were not treated (74%).
The interval from calving to start of the breeding season had a positive, curvilinear
(quadratic) effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days.

Final in-calf rate
Final in-calf rate is defined as the percentage of cows in a herd that conceived at the end of
the breeding season. It is related to empty rate (final in-calf rate + empty rate = 100%). The
overall final in-calf rate was 90% and again with large variation among herds (95% for the
top quartile herds and 83% for bottom quartile herds).

Final in-calf rate varied between regions (from 89% for Wellington to 92% for Waikato), but
not between seasons. The effects of breed and age on final in-calf rate were similar to their
effects on pregnancy rate in 42 days. Crossbred cows had a higher final in-calf rate (92%)
than Friesian (90%) or Jersey (90%) cows. Final in-calf rate was low in 2-year-old cows
(89%), increased to reach a maximum (93%) in 4-year-old cows and then decreased with age
to 84% in cows aged 10 years and over. There were significant effects of breed by age
interactions. Friesian had lower final in-calf rate than Jersey in younger cows (2- and 3-year
old), whereas Jersey had lower final in-calf rate than Friesian in older cows (6 years and
over). Crossbred cows had final in-calf rates that were similar or better than the pure breeds
at all ages.

Final in-calf rate was lower for cows that had calving difficulty compared with those that had
no calving difficulty (85% versus 91%). Cows that gave birth to twin calves had a lower final
in-calf rate than cows that gave birth to a single calf (86% versus 91%). After adjusting for
other factors in the model, induced cows had a lightly higher final in-calf rate than non-
induced cows (92% versus 91%). However, it would be wrong to assume that induction
actually increased final in-calf rate. Instead this might be due to preferential feeding and
management of induced cows. Cows that were treated for anoestrus had lower final in-calf
rate (86%) than cows in the same herds that were not treated (92%). The effect of anoestrus
treatment was greater for Friesian cows (84% versus 92%) than Jersey cows (87% versus
90%), with crossbred cows being in between (87% versus 93%). The interval from calving to
start of the breeding season had a positive, curvilinear (quadratic) effect on final in-calf rate.

Relationship between protein percentage and reproductive performance
A positive correlation between the milk protein percentage at the herd test close to the start of
the breeding season and reproductive performance was found for Friesian, Jersey, and
crossbred cows. Adjustment for stage of lactation and age could not completely explain the
relationship. Further studies are needed to ascertain the nature the this relationship.

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Factors affecting reproductive performance at herd level
In an effort to explain the large variation among herds in reproductive performance, various
factors were analysed to determine their effects on submission rate, conception rate to first AI
and pregnancy rate in 42 days. It should be pointed out that, despite being statistically
significant, the effects of most factors on herd reproductive performance are very small.

Early treatment of anoestrous cows (before day 13 after start of the breeding season) had a
positive effect on herd submission rate (odds ratio [O.R.] = 1.62), but a negative effect on
conception rate (O.R. = 0.94), compared with treatment after day 13. Treatment of anoestrous
cows had a positive effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days compared with herds that did not
treat anoestrous cows (O.R. = 0.91).

Sharemilker herds had higher submission rate, conception rate, and pregnancy rate in 42 days
than owner-operator herds (O.R. = 1.30, 1.11, and 1.18, respectively) and herds managed by
herd managers (O.R. = 1.92, 1.06, and 1.18, respectively). Owner-operator herds had higher
submission rate (O.R. = 1.48) and pregnancy rate in 42 days (O.R. = 1.18) but similar
conception rate compared with herd-manager herds.

The age of the herd managers had a small but significant effects on herd reproductive
performance. However, age had the opposite effects on submission rate versus conception
rate, resulting in no effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days.

The education level of herd managers had a small but significant effects on herd reproductive
performance. Herds whose managers had polytechnic education had lower submission rate
(O.R. = 0.89), similar conception rate, and lower pregnancy rate in 42 days (O.R.=0.94)
compared with herds whose managers had university degrees; lower submission rate
(O.R.=0.92), lower conception rate (O.R.=0.94), and lower pregnancy rate (O.R.=0.92)
compared with herds whose managers had high school education. Herds whose managers had
high school education had better conception rate (O.R.=1.05) but similar submission rate and
pregnancy rate in 42 days compared with herds whose managers had university education.

Herds with more than 2 labour units had better reproductive performance than herds with 2
labour units or less, but there was no difference betweens herds with 1 and herds with 1.3 to 2
labour units.

There appeared to be some benefits to have only one or two people dedicated to doing heat
detection. All three reproductive performance parameters were lower in herds where more
than 2 people did heat detection compared with herds where only one or two people did heat
detection. All three reproductive performance parameters were higher for herds whose
owner(s) did heat detection compared with herds whose owners did not do heat detection.
Similarly, reproductive performance was higher for herds where the herd manager did heat
detection compared with herds where the manager did not do heat detection, although the
odds ratios for herd managers were consistently slightly lower than for herd owners. The use
of farm labours for heat detection was associated with a reduced submission rate, but no
effect on conception rate or pregnancy rate in 42 days.

Separation of cows in a herd into mobs during the premating and mating period had no effect
on submission rate, but slightly improved conception rate and pregnancy rate in 42 days.

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Herd size had only a very small, although statistically significant, negative effect on
reproductive performance. An increase of 50 cows in herd size led to a reduction in the odds
for all three reproductive parameters to 0.98.

The average milk solid yield of cows in a herd had a positive effect on reproductive
performance. A 10-kg increase in milk yield increased the odds for submission rate to 1.045,
for conception rate to 1.014, and for pregnancy rate in 42 days to 1.022.

Diseases and health problems
During the trial period, the disease incidence was 25.5% per year. Mastitis accounted for 47%
of all disease cases, followed by lameness (21%), calving difficulty (13%) metabolic diseases
(7%), retained placenta (6%), uterine infection (2%) and other unidentified diseases (4%).

Retained placenta. The overall incidence of retained placenta was 1.5% per year. The
incidence of retained placenta was significantly increased by twin calving (11.8% versus
1.5%), calving difficulty (3.9% versus 1.5%), induction (4.1% versus 1.4%), and premature
birth (12.2% versus 1.5%). Friesian cows had a slightly higher risk for retained placenta
(1.8%) than Jersey (1.3%) and crossbred cows (1.5%). Cows that calved around the planned
start of calving had a higher risk for retained placenta than cows that calved late in the
season. Regions differed in the incidence of retained placenta (from 0.7% in Northland to
1.9% in Waikato).

Metabolic diseases. The overall incidence of metabolic diseases was 1.8% per year. This
was most affected by age, increasing from <1% in young (2–4 years) cows to >5% in old
cows (≥8 years). Metabolic diseases were very rare in 2- and 3-year-old Jersey cows, whereas
older (≥6 years) Jersey cows had higher incidence of metabolic diseases than Friesian and
crossbred cows. The risk for metabolic diseases was increased by twin calving (2.8% versus
1.9%), calving difficulty (3.7% versus 1.9%), and induction (2.6% versus 1.9%), but reduced
in cows that calved prematurely (0.3% versus 2.0%). Regions differed in the incidence of
metabolic diseases (from 1.1% in Northland to 2.6% in Bay of Plenty).

Mastitis. The overall incidence of mastitis was 12.0% per year. Regions differed in mastitis
incidence (from 7.4% in Northland to 13.1% in Bay of Plenty). Overall, Friesian cows had
more mastitis cases (12.5%) than Jersey (10.3%) and crossbred cows (11.4%). Two-year-old
cows had a relatively high incidence of mastitis (12.1%). The incidence of mastitis was
lowest in 3-year-old cows (7.5%) and increased with age to >17% in older cows (≥9 years).

Lameness. The overall incidence of lameness was 5.2% per year. The incidence of lameness
was higher in 2000 season (5.6%) than in 1998 season (3.9%). Regions differed in the
incidence of lameness (from 3.4% in Bay of Plenty to 7.5% in South Island). The incidence
of lameness was 5.5% in 2-year-old cows, lowest in 3-year-old cows (2.7%), and increased
with age to 8.1% in cows aged 10 years and over. Overall, Friesian cows had more lameness
problem (5.4%) than Jersey (3.8%) and crossbred cows (4.3%) and the breed differences
were especially pronounced in 2-year-old cows and in cows aged 5 years and over.

Uterine infection. The overall incidence of uterine infection was 0.5% per year. This could
be an under-estimate of the true incidence of uterine infection due to the difficulty in
detecting mild cases of uterine infection. The incidence of uterine infection was most
adversely affected by problems associated with calving, such as twin birth (3.1% versus
0.5%), calving difficulty (1.7% versus 0.5%), induction (1.0% versus 0.5%), and premature

Page 8 of 51
birth (3.1% versus 0.54%). Crossbred cows had a lower incidence of uterine infection (0.4%)
than Friesian (0.5%) and jersey cows (0.6%). Age also had a significant effect on uterine
infection (varied from 0.4% for 5-year-old to 0.7% for 2-year-old cows).

Effects of disease on reproductive performance. Compared with the submission rate for
cows that did not suffer from a particular disease (85%), the submission rate was lower for
cows suffered from uterine infection (76%), retained placenta (81%), metabolic diseases
(81%), lameness (80%), or mastitis (84%). Conception rate to first AI was reduced by
retained placenta (46% versus 56%), uterine infection (45% versus 56%), and lameness (53%
versus 56%), but not by metabolic diseases (54% versus 56%). Mastitis after first AI reduced
conception rate (52% versus 56%), but mastitis before first AI had no effect (55% verus
56%). The final in-calf rate was reduced by uterine infection (78% versus 91%), retained
placenta (81% versus 91%), lameness (89% versus 91%), and metabolic diseases (89%
versus 91%), but not by mastitis.

General conclusions 
Results from the present study show that current reproductive performance of dairy cows
in New Zealand is relative high compared with many overseas countries. The large
variation among herds in reproductive performance suggests tremendous scope for
improvement through better management. The present study has failed to identify one
significant management factor that has a large impact on herd reproductive performance.
This suggests that herd reproductive performance is likely to be affected by multiple
factors. In addition, factors that had not been studied, such as nutrition, could have a
greater effect on reproductive performance. Productivity, as measured by average milk
solid yield per cow, had a positive phenotypic correlation with reproductive performance. 
The presence of anoestrous cows at the start of the breeding season is a major problem for
improving reproductive performance of dairy cows in New Zealand. While these cows
can be induced to cycle by hormonal treatment, such treatment can not completely
eliminate the problems caused by anoestrus. Treated cows had lower conception rate,
lower pregnancy rate in 42 days, and higher empty rate than cows in the same herds that
cycled spontaneously. Nevertheless, the use of anoestrus treatment can improve herd
reproductive performance. 
There are major breed differences in reproductive performance. Overall, Friesian cows
have lower reproductive performance than Jersey cows. Some of this breed difference in
reproductive performance may be due to breed differences in regional distribution,
anoestrus, calving difficulty, etc. The most prominent problem with Friesian cows was
their high anoestrus level. This was reflected in their lower submission rate compared
with Jersey cows (78% versus 85%). Once having resumed oestrous cyclicity, conception
rate of Friesian cows was higher than Jersey cows (56% versus 53%). Therefore, future
research effort should be devoted to alleviate the anoestrous problem in Friesian cows,
especially 2- and 3-year-old Friesian cows. 
Reproductive performance of 2-year-old cows was poorer than young, mature cows (4 to
6 years). Extra management attention should be devoted to cows of this age group. One
other consistent finding from the present study was that old cows (≥8 years) had poorer
reproductive performance than young, mature cows. These cows also had more disease
and health problems than younger cows. The economic value of having very old cows in
the herd should be investigated. In other words, the marginal value for survival from 4 to
5 years should be greater than survival from 7 to 8 years.

Page 9 of 51 
The study has confirmed the importance, and also quantified the effects, of retained
placenta, uterine infection, calving difficulty, and twin calving on reproductive
performance. Despite the relative low incidence of these conditions, their effects on
reproductive performance were very large. These cows, together with anoestrous cows,
form the at-risk group for poor reproductive performance. 
Induced cows had similar reproductive performance to non-induced cows that calved at
similar times. Unfortunately, more than half of the induced cows were induced to calve
within 6 weeks of the start of the breeding season. Currently, there is an industry drive to
decrease the use of induction by improving reproductive performance during the breeding
period. However, if induction is going to be used, cows should be induced to calve within
6 weeks of the planned calving-start date so that reproductive performance of the induced
cows is not severely compromised. 
The positive correlation between milk protein percentage and reproductive performance is
interesting and deserves further study. 
Most of the herd-level factors had only a small, although significant, effect on herd
reproductive performance. More studies are needed to pinpoint the large variation among
herds in reproductive performance. One consistent finding from the study was the need to
designate one or two experienced people for heat detection. The positive relationship
between milk solid yield and reproductive performance suggests that good management
that increases milk yield also has a positive effect on reproductive performance.

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Acknowledgment
This project was financially supported by the former New Zealand Dairy Board through its
Dairy Global Programme.

We thank the participating herd owners for their support by allowing their herd information
to be used in the study and for their dedication in recording and supplying the required
information. Without their help, this project would not have been possible.

Many thanks go to the LIC CSG staff, Gerry Schuil, Darrell Simm, Phil Lee, and Ruben Van
Der Lee, for their help with the data extraction, storage and management. Thanks also go to
the staff at the MINDA data bureau for their help with data entry.

We want to thank the many district managers who helped in many ways with the project.

Special thanks go to Dave Johnson for his advice on statistical analyses; Hinrich Voges and
Jenny Burton for comments on the draft report.

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Introduction
The monitoring fertility project was initiated in 1998 and collected reproductive information
from selected herds over 3 seasons from 1998 to 2000. The project was funded by the New
Zealand Dairy Board through its Global Programme. The main objective of the project is to
collect complete and accurate information on the reproductive performance of cows in at
least 300 herds over a 3-year period. This information will be used to:

• Benchmark the reproductive performance of dairy cows in New Zealand so that long-term
changes in dairy cattle fertility can be determined.
• Identify the major factors affecting the reproductive performance of cows within herds.
• Determine the main causes of variation in reproductive performance between herds.

This report contains the final results for the 3 seasons. Results contained in this report have
been subjected to statistical analyses using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Most results are
reported as least squares means, which differ from arithmetic means in that differences
between groups in other factors (eg differences between induced and non-induced cows in the
time of calving) have been accounted for. Readers need to keep this in mind when reading
this document.

Herds involved in the study
Most herds involved in this study were herds that participated in the sire-proving scheme
(SPS) of Livestock Improvement Corporation. In addition, a few non-SPS herds from the
Waikato and Taranaki regions were also included in the study (Table 1). The purpose of
including the non-SPS herds was to provide some comparison between SPS and non-SPS
herds. However, a direct comparison between SPS and non-SPS herds may not be possible
because the number of non-SPS herds involved was small and because SPS and non-SPS
herds were not deliberately selected to match each other in geographic location, herd
management practice and other factors that may affect herd reproductive performance.

Table 1. Some information on herds involved in the monitoring fertility project.

Season Herd type No of herds Average Range in Total cows
herd size herd size
SPS 85 238 76-633 20265
1998 Non-SPS 38 257 111-763 9776
Total 123 244 76-763 30041
SPS 149 247 72-776 36788
1999 Non-SPS 29 244 131-445 7080
Total 178 246 72-776 43868
SPS 89 238 74-710 21167
2000 Non-SPS 24 255 143-459 6109
Total 113 241 74-710 27276
All Overall Total 414* 244 72-776 101185
* It should be more appropriate to refer this as 414 herd-seasons because most herds were
involved in the study for more than one season: 70 herds were involved in all 3 seasons, 68
herds in 2 seasons, and 68 herds in only one season. There were 206 distinct herds.

Page 12 of 51
Of the 123 herds that were involved in the study in 1998, 18 SPS and 9 non-SPS herds did
not participate in the study in 1999. In 1999, 82 new SPS herds were recruited into the study.
All herds involved in the study in 2000 were from those there were also involved in 1999.

The average number of milking cows at the start of the season varied only slightly from the
national average herd sizes of 229, 236, and 251 for the seasons of 1998, 1999, and 2000,
respectively (Dairy Statistics 2000).

The breakdown by breeds and regions of cows involved in the study is shown in Table 2 and
Table 3. The difference in breed composition between SPS and non-SPS herds (Table 2) was
mainly due to two reasons. First, more than half of non-SPS herds were in Taranaki and herds
in Taranaki have more Jersey cows than other regions; Second, within the Waikato or
Taranaki region, the selected non-SPS herds had more Jersey cows than SPS herds (Table 4).

Table 2. Breed composition of cows involved in the study. Friesian and Jersey cows are
defined as those having ≥13/16 of Holstein-Friesian or Jersey blood, respectively; crossbred
are defined as those having between 5/16 and 12/16 of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey blood;
other includes all other breeds and their crosses.

Season Herd type Friesian Jersey Crossbred Other
SPS 48.8 14.9 35.2 1.1
1998 Non-SPS 34.9 29.8 34.7 0.6
Total 44.2 19.8 35.0 1.0
SPS 46.8 16.5 35.8 0.9
1999 Non-SPS 26.7 37.0 35.7 0.5
Total 43.6 19.8 35.8 0.8
SPS 48.9 12.8 37.4 0.9
2000 Non-SPS 27.1 33.6 38.7 0.6
Total 44.0 17.5 37.7 0.8
All Overall Total 43.9 19.2 36.1 0.8

Table 3. Number of herds and cows across various regions in each of the 3 seasons

Region Herd type 1998 1999 2000 All
Herds Cows Herds Cows Herds Cows Herds Cows
Northland SPS 7 1229 15 2787 10 1838 32 5854
Waikato SPS 38 9245 58 13787 34 8463 130 31495
Non-SPS 17 4581 12 3057 10 2324 39 9962
Bay of Plenty SPS 6 1332 13 3011 8 2373 27 6716
SPS 15 3098 29 6560 18 3565 62 13223
Taranaki
Non-SPS 21 5195 17 4023 14 3326 52 12544
Wellington SPS 9 1910 16 4270 8 1719 33 7899
Southland SPS 10 3451 18 6373 11 3668 39 13492
All 123 30041 178 43868 113 27276 414 101185

Page 13 of 51
Table 4. Differences in breed composition between regions and between SPS and non-SPS
herds.

Region Herd type No cows Friesian Jersey Crossbred Other
Northland SPS 5854 63.2 2.9 26.4 7.6
Waikato SPS 31495 49.1 10.4 40.2 0.3
Non-SPS 9962 32.2 33.5 33.3 1.0
Bay of Plenty SPS 6716 47.2 23.0 29.6 0.2
Taranaki SPS 13223 37.5 23.2 39.0 0.3
Non-SPS 12544 29.9 30.5 39.3 0.3
Wellington SPS 7899 50.1 14.2 34.8 0.9
Southland SPS 13492 45.9 22.7 31.1 0.3

Statistical analysis
There are several choices for the model used to analyse the data. In the end, the MIXED
procedure of SAS was used for most of the analyses. The MIXED procedure fits a variety of
mixed linear models that are generalisation of the standard linear model. Although the
MIXED procedure assumes that data are normally distributed and most reproductive
performance data (such as conception rate and pregnancy rate) are binomial, the use of the
MIXED procedure to the current data set yielded reasonably good approximation because of
the large number of observations. There are two main reasons for choosing the MIXED
procedure over other procedures that are designed for binomial data. The first is that MIXED
allows the inclusion of herd-year as a random factor and still allows testing the effects of
season and region. On the other hand, the inclusion of herd-year as a fixed effect in other
procedures will significantly increase the computing time and this will also absorb season,
region, and any other herd-level factors. The second reason is that MIXED can estimate least
squares means using coefficients proportional to those found in the original data set. These
are considered more appropriate for the current study because of the huge imbalance in the
data for some factors. As a result, the least squares means produced by MIXED are more
meaningful in practical terms than those produced by other procedures that use equal
coefficients across classification effects. For most analyses, results from MIXED analyses are
checked using the GENMOD procedure of SAS and they agreed with each other as far as
statistical significance is concerned.

Page 14 of 51
Anoestrous cow treatment
In this survey, we collected data on cows that had been treated with a progesterone
programme for being anoestrus. Due to the nature of the study, it was not possible to
standardise the definition of anoestrus across all the herds. We relied on each herd’s own
veterinarian for the interpretation. From anecdotal evidence, most but not all vets performed a
rectal palpation on cows before treatment. Some vets treated all cows without a palpable
corpus luteum, while others did not treat cows with large follicles on the ovary.

Level of usage of anoestrus treatment
The usage of anoestrus treatment at the herd level is shown in Table 5. Overall, 81% of herds
in the study treated anoestrous cows. Of those herds that used anoestrus treatment, 41% first
treated before the start of breeding, 26% during the first 2 weeks of the start of breeding, and
33% more than 2 weeks after the start of breeding. The time of anoestrus treatment ranged
from 10 days before to 71 days after the start of the breeding season. About half of the herds
(51%) treated anoestrous cows in one group on one occasion, 35% of the herds in 2 groups on
2 occasions, 11% of the herds in 3 groups on 3 occasions, and 3% in more than 3 groups.

Table 5. Anoestrus treatment usage and time of initiation of treatment.
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of herds* 119 177 112 408
Herds that did not treat any anoestrous cow, n 23 32 21 76
Number of herds that first treated cows
before start of breeding season 41 57 38 136
during first 14 days of breeding season 24 39 22 85
after 14 days of breeding season 31 49 31 111
*Only herds that submitted anoestrus treatment information were included in the calculation.

The percentage of anoestrous cows treated is shown in Table 6. There were more cows
treated in the 1998 season than in the other 2 seasons. There is a general trend for a decreased
percentage of cows being treated if the time of treatment was delayed. Overall, about 20% of
cows in an average herd could be anoestrous within about a week before the planned start of
the breeding season. About 5% of anoestrous cows were treated on more than one occasion.

Table 6. Percentage of cows treated for anoestrus in 3 seasons. Values shown in this table are
raw data.
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of herds* 96 145 91 332
Total number of cows 23634 35913 22085 81632
Number of cows treated 4489 5622 3359 13470
Percentage of cows treated by time
Before start of breeding season 21.9 20.4 20.1 20.8
During first 14 days of breeding season 22.4 16.2 14.7 17.6
After 14 days of breeding season 11.4 9.0 8.7 9.6
All herds 19.0 15.7 15.2 16.5

Page 15 of 51
Statistical analysis
The analyses were carried out using the MIXED procedure of SAS. The following model was
used to analyse the effects of various risk factors on anoestrus. In addition, herd-season was
included in the model as a random factor. Only data for cows in herds that treated anoestrous
cows were used in the analyses.

Anoestrus = µ + season + region + herdtype + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff
+ induction + ICSBS + ICSBS2 + ICSBS3 + ICSBS*breed + ICSBS*age +
trtmnt_time + trtmnt_time*breed + trtmnt_time*age

Where:

Anoestrus = whether or not a cow was treated for anoestrus (1 or 0);
Season = the season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, Friesian-Jersey crossbred, and other);
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born at the calving immediately before the
breeding season;
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty. There is no
distinction made to the severity of the calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
ICSBS = interval from calving to start of the breeding season (mean = 61.6 days,
first percentile = 12 days, 99th percentile = 91 days);
Trtmnt_time = the time (days) of initiation of the first anoestrus treatment for a herd
relative to start of the breeding season (mean = 7.5 days, minimum = -10
days, maximum = 71 days)

When estimating least squares means, covariates were set at 61.6 days for the interval from
calving to the start of the breeding season and 7.5 days for the time of anoestrus treatment.

Season
As the raw data suggested, a higher (P < 0.001) percentage of anoestrous cows were treated
in the 1998 season (18.9%) than the 1999 (14.8%) and the 2000 (14.1%) seasons, which did
not differ.

Region
There are regional differences in the percentage of cows treated for anoestrus. A higher (P <
0.02) percentage of cows in the Northland region (23.6%) were treated for anoestrus than in
other regions, which did not differ (14.8% for Waikato, 14.4% for Bay of Plenty, 14.8% for
Taranaki, 17.2% for Wellington, and 17.3% for South Island). There were no significant
region by season interactions.

Herd type
There was no difference in the percentage of anoestrous cows treated between SPS (16.1%)
and non-SPS (14.7%) herds.

Page 16 of 51
Age and breed
There were significant (P < 0.0001) 30 a
effects of age, breed and age by breed

Anoestrous cows treated (%)
25
interaction on the percentage of cows b
20
treated for anoestrus. Overall, a higher
(P < 0.0001) percentage of Friesian 15 c
cows (18.7%) were treated for 10
d
e e,f e,f
anoestrus than Jersey (12.9%) or f f
5
crossbred cows (13.6%). The
percentage of anoestrous cows treated 0
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
was high for 2-year-old cows (28.4%). Age
This percentage decreased sharply with
age to reach low levels of between Figure 1. Effects of age on the percentage of
6.7% and 8.5% in cows aged 6 years cows treated for anoestrus. Means with no
and over (Figure 1). common superscript differ (at least P < 0.05).

The effects of age and breed on the 35
percentage of anoestrous cows treated Friesian Jersey Crossbred
Anoestrous cows treated (%)

30
are shown in Figure 2. Breed 25
differences were most pronounced in 20
2- and 3-year-old cows and became
15
non-significant in cows aged 7 years
10
and over. The anoestrus rate of
5
Friesian cows was higher than Jersey
0
cows for age groups 2 (P < 0.0001), 3 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >=10
(P < 0.0001) and 4 (P < 0.01), and Age

higher than crossbred cows for age
Figure 2. Effects of age and breed on the
groups 2 (P < 0.0001), 3 (P < 0.0001),
percentage of cows treated for anoestrus.
4 (P < 0.0001), 5 (P < 0.01), and 6 (P <
0.01). The difference between Jersey
and crossbred cows was only significant (P < 0.0001) for 2-year-old cows. Thus the
anoestrous problem of Friesian cows mainly occurs in 2- and 3-year-old cows.

Time of calving
35
Time of calving had a significant effect
Anoestrous cows treated (%)

Friesian Jersey Crossbred
30
on anoestrus incidence with both the
25
linear (P < 0.01), quadratic (P <
20
0.0001), and cubic (P < 0.0001) terms
15
being significant. There were also
10
significant (P < 0.0001) effects of
5
calving time by breed and calving time 0
by age interactions. The effects of 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90

calving time on anoestrous percentage Interval (day) from calving to the start of AB

were shown in Figure 3 for the 3
breeds. The decrease in anoestrous Figure 3. Effect of breed and time of calving on
percentage with increasing interval the percentage of cows treated for anoestrus.
from calving to start of breeding
season was less (P < 0.001) in Jersey cows than in Friesian and crossbred cows.

Page 17 of 51
The effects of age and time of calving 45
on the percentage of cows treated for 2=year 3-year 4-year 6-year 9-year

Anoestrous cows treated (%)
40

anoestrus are shown in Figure 4 for 35
30
cows aged 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 years. 25
Several conclusions can be made from 20

data shown in Figure 4. First of all, 15
10
anoestrous percentage decreased with 5
age at each time point, in agreement 0
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
with the overall anoestrous rate for Interval (day) from calving to the start of AB
each age group shown in Figure 1.
Time of calving had the greatest effect Figure 4. Effects of age and time of calving on
in 3-year-old cows and its effect the percentage of cows treated for anoestrus.
decreased with age for cows aged over
3 years. For 2-year-old cows, the changes in anoestrous percentage with time of calving were
less than 3- and 4-year-old cows, resulting in very high anoestrous percentages (>20%) even
for cows calved around the planned start of calving (83 days).

Time of anoestrus treatment
As expected, the date when anoestrus treatment was initiated had a significant (P < 0.0001)
effect on the percentage of cows treated for anoestrus. The effect of time of treatment was
similar across all three seasons (time by season interactions: P > 0.7), but different between
breeds (time by breed interactions: P < 0.05). A one-day delay in the initiation of anoestrus
treatment resulted in 0.38% decrease in the number of Friesian cows treated for anoestrus
compared with 0.32% for Jersey and 0.31% for crossbred cows. Despite being statistically
significant, the magnitude of breed by treatment time interactions was very small. For a 4-
week difference in time of treatment, the difference in the percentage of anoestrous cows
treated was 10.9% for Friesian, 9.2% for Jersey, and 8.9% for crossbred cows.

There were also significant effects of treatment time by age interactions (P < 0.0001). It
appeared that the magnitude of the effect of treatment time decreased with age. The
regression coefficients were -0.46%, -0.50%, -0.33%, -0.30%, -0.21%, -0.23%, -0.20%, -
0.26%, and -0.17% for cows aged 2 to 10 years, respectively. This is probably a reflection of
the decrease in the anoestrous problem with age (Figure 1).

Difficult calving, twinning and induction
Cows that had difficult calving were more (P < 0.0001) likely to be treated for anoestrus
(18.6%) than cows that had normal calving (15.7%). Cows that had twins had a higher (P <
0.0001) incidence of anoestrus (21.8%) than cows that had singles (15.7%). After adjusting
for other factors in the model, cows induced to calve had a lower percentage (13.8%, P <
0.0001) of anoestrous cows treated than non-induced cows (16.0%).

Reproductive performance of treated anoestrous cows
The oestrus response rate was defined as the percentage of cows that were detected in oestrus
within 14 days after the initiation of the anoestrus treatment programme. Since the duration
of most treatment programmes were around 7 days, the oestrus response rate measures the
oestrous response over about a 7-day period after the treatment programme. The overall
oestrus response rate for treated anoestrous cows in the present study was 85.6% and the
conception rate to inseminations at the induced oestrus was 38.6%.

Page 18 of 51
Oestrus response rate
There were no significant effects of season, region, calving difficulty, induction, and
twinning on oestrus response rate. The oestrus response rate for crossbred cows (87.2%) was
higher than that for Friesian (85.8%, P < 0.05) or Jersey cows (84.6% P = 0.05), but there
was no difference between Friesian and Jersey cows. The oestrus response rate for 2-year-old
cows (84.1%) was significantly lower than cows aged 3 (88.1%, P < 0.0001), 4 (87.2%, P <
0.01), 5 (87.5%, P < 0.01), and 6 (87.1%, P < 0.05) years, but there was no significant
difference in the oestrus response rates between any other age groups (85.9%, 85.0%, 85.9%,
and 86.3% for cows aged 7, 8, 9, and 10 years, respectively).

The oestrus response rate was affected 90
by the interval from calving to the

Oestrous response rate (%)
initiation of anoestrus treatment 85

(ICIAT), with both the linear and
quadratic (-0.004%) terms being 80

significant (P < 0.0001). There were 75
also significant (P = 0.001) interactions 2=year 3-year 7-year 10-year

between ICIAT and age. The linear 70
25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110
regression coefficients for ICIAT were Interval (day) from calving to anoestrus treatment
0.66%, 0.56%, 0.49%, 0.61%, 0.59%,
0.44%, 0.48%, 0.72%, and 0.73%, for
Figure 5. Effects of interval from calving to
cows aged 2 to 10 years, respectively.
treatment and age on oestrous response to
The effects of ICIAT on oestrus
anoestrus treatment
response rate for selected age groups
are shown in Figure 5. There was no
general trend for the age by ICIAT interactions.

Conception rate at induced oestrus
The conception rate at the induced oestrus was lower for the 1998 season (37.2%) than the
1999 season (40.4%, P < 0.05) and marginally lower than for the 2000 season (40.1%, P =
0.10). The conception rate of Jersey cows (34.3%) was lower (P < 0.01) than Friesian
(39.6%) or crossbred (40.0%) cows. Non-SPS herds had a higher (P = 0.01) conception rate
(42.6%) than SPS herds (38.3%). Induced cows had a lower conception rate than non-induced
cows (35.9% versus 39.6%, P < 0.05). The interval from calving to the start of anoestrus
treatment affected conception rate; a one-day increase in the interval resulted in an increase
of 0.26% (P < 0.0001) in conception rate.

The effects of age on conception rate 45
c c
are shown in Figure 6. Two-year-old 40
c b,c
b,c
b,c
b
cows had a conception rate (37.7%)
Conception rate (%)

b
35
that was lower than cows aged 3 to 5
30
years. Highest conception rates were a

obtained in cows aged 4 (42.6%) and 5 25

(42.0%) years. Conception rate of 20

cows aged 10 years and over (27.3%) 15
was lower than all other age groups. 2 3 4 5 6
Age
7 8 9 >=10

However, the numbers of cows in age
groups 8 to 10 were small (<400 Figure 6. Effects of age on the conception rate of
cows). anoestrous cows at the induced oestrus.

Page 19 of 51
Submission rate
In this report, submission rate is defined as the percentage of cows in a herd that have been
submitted for insemination during the first 3 weeks of the breeding season. Table 7 shows the
raw submission rate in the first 3 weeks. The overall submission rate is only slightly over
80%. Submission rate varied a little with season, but varied significantly among herds. There
was a difference of 25 percentage units in the average submission rate between herds in the
top and bottom quartiles.

Table 7. Submission rate (SR) in the first 3 weeks of the breeding season.

Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of cows 29480 43149 26826 99455
Overall SR 80.2 81.5 81.2 81.0
SR for bottom 25% of herds 64.9 67.7 68.4 66.9
SR for top 25% of herds 90.1 91.4 92.3 91.3

Statistical analysis
The submission rate data were analysed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. Cows that died
or were culled from the herds before 3 weeks after the start of the breeding season were
excluded from the analyses. The following model was fitted to the data.

SR = µ + season + region + herdtype + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff +
induction + induction*breed + AN_Trted + AN_Trted*breed + ICSBS + ICSBS2 +
ICSBS3 + ICSBS*breed

Where:

Season = the dairy season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, Friesian-Jersey crossbred, and other);
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born at the calving immediately before the
breeding season;
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty. There is no
distinction made to the severity of the calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
AN_trted = whether or not a cow was treated for anoestrus within 13 days after the
start of the breeding season. These treated cows would be mated in the
first 21 days of the breeding season;
ICSBS = interval from calving to the start of the breeding season (mean = 61.6
days, first percentile = 11 days, 99th percentile = 94 days);

Season
The least squares means estimates for submission rate varied across seasons, being lower (P <
0.001) in 1998 (82.5%) than in 1999 (85.8%) and 2000 (86.1%).

Page 20 of 51
Region 90 c
b,c b,c
a,b
Region differed in submission rate 85
a a

Submission rate (%)
80
(Figure 7). The South Island region
75
had the highest submission rate of
70
87.2%, followed by Taranaki at 85.7%,
65
Waikato at 84.9%, Bay of Plenty at 60
83.5%, Wellington at 81.9% and 55
Northland at 81.1%. 50
Northland Waikato Bay Plenty Taranaki Wellington S. Island

Breed and age Region

There were significant (P < 0.0001) Figure 7. Regional differences in LSM estimates
effects of age, breed and age by breed for submission rate. Regions with no common
interactions on submission rate. superscript differed (P < 0.05).

The least-squares means estimates for submission rate was significantly (P < 0.001) lower for
Holstein-Friesian cows (82.5%) than for Jersey (87.1%) or crossbred (86.7%) cows. The
difference of 4.6% between Friesian and Jersey cows in the least squares means was about
half of the breed difference in raw submission rate (77.7% versus 85.5%). The reduction in
the breed difference in least squares means was mainly due to the inclusion of herd-season as
a random effect in the model.
95

e e
Two-year-old cows had the lowest 90 d,e d,e
c,d c
Submission rate (%)

submission rate (77.5%) of all age 85 b b

groups (Figure 8). Submission rate 80 a

increased sharply with age to reach 75

maximal values in cows aged between 70

5 and 6 years (89.1% and 89.2%). 65
Thereafter, submission rate decreased 60
gradually with increasing age to reach 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Age
a value of 83.6% in cows aged 10
years and over. Figure 8. Least squares means estimates for
submission rate by age. Means with no common
The least squares means estimates for superscript differ (P < 0.01 or less)
submission rate by age and breeds are
shown in Figure 9. Friesian cows had 95
a significantly lower submission rate 90
Friesian Jersey Crossbred

than Jersey cows for ages 2 (P <
Submission rate (%)

85
0.0001), 3 (P < 0.0001), 8 (P < 0.01), 9
80
(P < 0.05) and 10 (P < 0.05).
75
Compared with crossbred cows,
Friesian cows had a significantly lower 70

submission rate for ages 2 (P < 65

0.0001), 3 (P < 0.0001), 4 (P < 0.01), 5 60
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
(P < 0.01), 6 (P < 0.05), 8 (P < 0.001), Age
and 9 (P < 0.0001). The difference
between Jersey and crossbred cow was Figure 9. Least squares means estimates for
significant (P < 0.01) only for 2-year submission rate by age and breeds.
olds. Therefore, breed differences in
submission rate were most evident in younger cows.

Page 21 of 51
Time of calving 95

85
Submission rate was affected by the

Submission rate (%)
interval (days) from calving to the start 75

of the breeding season (ICSBS), with 65

Friesian
the regression coefficients for the 55
Jersey
linear, quadratic (-0.023%) and cubic 45 Crossbred

(0.0000798%) terms all being 35

significant (P < 0.0001). There were 25
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
also significant (P < 0.0001) effects of Interval from calving to start of breeding season (day)

breed by ICSBS interactions on
submission rate. The regression Figure 10. Effects of breeds and interval from
coefficients for ICSBS were 2.28%, calving to start of breeding season on submission
2.08%, and 2.20% for Friesian, Jersey rate in the first 3 weeks of breeding.
and crossbred cows, respectively. The
relationship between ICSBS and submission rate is shown in Figure 10 for the 3 breeds.
Differences between breeds in submission rate were small for cows that calved around the
planned start of calving (83 days) and the breed differences increased as ICSBS got shorter.

Anoestrus treatment
Overall, cows treated for anoestrus before day 13 after start of the breeding season had an
improved (P < 0.0001) estimated submission rate (96.1%) compared to cows in the same
herds that were not treated (85.5%). Cows in herds that did not treat any anoestrous cows had
a submission rate of 84.8%, while cows in herds that treated more than 13 days after the start
of the breeding season had a submission rate of 80.6%.

The magnitude of the effect of anoestrus treatment on submission rate differed (P < 0.0001)
among breeds. The differences in least squares means for submission rates between treated
and non-treated cows in the same herds were 13.1% for Friesian cows, 4.7% for Jersey cows,
and 10.0% for crossbred cows.

Induction
The estimated submission rates for induced cows were higher than non-induced cows for
Friesian (86.3% versus 82.2%, P < 0.0001) and crossbred cows (88.6% versus 86.5%, P <
0.05), but were similar for Jersey cows (87.3% versus 87.1%).

The above results were in contrast to the observed difference in raw submission rate between
induced (78.9%) and non-induced cows (81.9%), where induced cows had a lower
submission rate than non-induced cows. This could be explained by the later calving date for
induced cows (averaging 47.2 days before the start of the breeding season) compared with
non-induced cows (62.0 days).

Calving difficulty and twinning
Cows that experienced a difficult calving had an estimated submission rate of 79.8%
compared with 85.1% for cows with a normal calving (P < 0.0001). Cows that had twins had
a submission rate (80.4%) that was lower (P < 0.0001) than cows that had singles (84.9%).

SPS versus non-SPS herds
Cows in SPS herds had a similar submission rate (84.7%) to cows in non-SPS herds (85.6%).

Page 22 of 51
Conception rate to first artificial insemination (AI)
Participating farmers were asked to pregnancy test most of their culled cows. This has
enabled us to fairly accurately estimate the conception rate to first AI. For cows that were
pregnancy tested, the pregnancy diagnosis results were used to determine their conception
date and this was further verified, and adjusted if required, using calving information for
those that calved in the following spring. Cows that were culled or died before pregnancy
diagnosis was carried out were excluded from analyses for conception rate (n = 2096).

Raw conception rate to first AI
Conception rate to first AI (CR1) is calculated as the percentage of cows pregnant to the total
number of first inseminations. Table 8 shows the raw CR1 for all 3 seasons. The overall CR1
for all cows was 53.0%, with some seasonal variation from 52.3% in 1998 to 53.7% in 1999.
There was large variation among herds in CR1, with a 19% difference in CR1 between the
top and bottom quartiles of herds. After excluding cows that were treated for anoestrus, the
CR1 for cycling cows was 55.3%.

Table 8. Conception rate (CR1) to first AI in three seasons
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of 1st AI 26429 38637 24301 89367
Overall CR1 52.3 53.7 52.5 53.0
CR1 for bottom 25% of herds 43.0 43.6 43.6 43.4
CR1 for top 25% of herds 61.9 63.0 61.8 62.3
Overall CR1 for cycling cows* 55.2 55.8 54.5 55.3
*All inseminations for cows after anoestrus treatment were excluded from CR calculation.

Statistical analyses
The analyses were carried out using the MIXED procedure of SAS. The following model was
used to analyse the CR1 data set. In addition, herd-season was included in the model as a
random factor.

CR1 = µ + season + region + herdtype + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff +
induction + weekday + anoestrus + ICAI + ICAI2 + ICAI3 + ICAI*age +
DayofAI + dayofAI2 + dayofAI3

Where:

Season = the dairy season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, Friesian-Jersey crossbred, and other);
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born at the calving immediately before the
breeding season;

Page 23 of 51
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty. There is no
distinction made to the severity of the calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
Weekday = day of the week when AI was performed;
Anoestrus = if the cow had been treated for anoestrus before the first insemination;
ICAI = interval from calving to first AI (mean = 74.14 days, first percentile = 28
days, 99th percentile = 114 days);
DayofAI = day of artificial insemination from the start of the breeding season (mean
= 11.98 days, first percentile = 0 days, 99th percentile = 40 days).

When estimating least squares means from the model, covariates were set at 74.14 days for
the interval from calving to first AI and 11.98 days for interval from start of breeding season
to first AI.

Season
There were significant seasonal variation in CR1. The least squares means for CR1 were
higher in the 1999 season (56.7%, P < 0.01) than in the 1998 season (54.5%) and marginally
higher (P = 0.08) than in the 2000 season (55.3%). Difference between the 1998 and 2000
seasons was not significant (P = 0.31).

Region
60
Regions differed (P < 0.01) in CR1 a
(Figure 11). The least squares means a,b b a,b
b,c
55
estimates of CR1 were highest (57.4%)
Conception rate (%)

c
for Taranaki and lowest (51.9%) for
50
Wellington region. Northland (55.6%),
Waikato (55.7%) and Bay of Plenty
(55.7%) regions had very similar CR1. 45

South Island region had a CR1 of
54.5%, which was lower (P < 0.05) 40
Northland Waikato Bay Plenty Taranaki Wellington S. Island
than Taranaki, but similar to other
regions. There were no significant Figure 11. Least squares means for conception
effects of season by region interactions rates to first AI in different regions. Regions with
(P = 0.70) on CR1. no common superscripts differ (P < 0.05).

60 59.2

Age 57.4 57.7 57.4
55.7

Age had a significant (P < 0.0001) 55
Conception rate (%)

53.5 53.3

effect on CR1 (Figure 12). CR1 was 50
low in 2-year-old cows (53.5%) and 50

46.7
rose with age to reach a maximum in
45
4-year-old cows (59.2%). Thereafter,
CR1 decreased with age to reach a
40
value of 46.7% in cows aged 10 years 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
and over. Age

Figure 12. Least square means for conception
rate to first AI for cows of different age.

Page 24 of 51
Breed
Jersey cows had significantly (P < 0.0001) lower CR1 (53.3%) than Friesian (56.1%) and
crossbred cows (56.4%). There appeared to be some heterosis effect on CR1 because
crossbred cows had a CR1 that was similar to the breed with better performance.

Age by breed interactions
There were also significant (P < 0.05)
effects of age by breed interactions on 60
Friesian Jersey Crossbred
CR1. In 2- and 3-year-old cows, CR1 55

Conception rate (%)
for the 3 breed groups were similar,
whereas in cows aged 4 years and 50

over, Jersey cows had a significantly 45
lower CR1 than Friesian and crossbred
cows (Figure 13). The magnitude of 40

differences in CR1 between Jersey and 35
the other two breeds appeared to 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Age
increase with age. The highest CR1
was observed in 3-year-old Jersey Figure 13. Least square means for conception
cows and 4-year-old Friesian and rate to first AI for cows of different age and
crossbred cows. breeds.
SPS versus non-SPS herds
Conception rate to first AI was significantly higher (P < 0.01) for cows in non-SPS herds
(57.5%) than cows in SPS herds (55.1%). Because non-SPS herds were only selected from
the Waikato and Taranaki regions, the model was re-run using only data from these two
regions. Difference in CR1 between non-SPS and SPS herds estimated from the new analysis
was 2.45%, which was similar to the difference of 2.37% obtained from the original analysis.
One possible explanation may be differences in fertility of sires used to breed SPS (young,
unproven sires) and non-SPS (mature, proven sires) herds, but this hypothesis could not be
determined from the present analyses. Other differences between these two herd types may be
responsible.

Induction
Induced cows had an estimated CR1 60
(54.9%) that was similar (P = 0.23) to 55
Normal
Induced
non-induced cows (55.7%, Figure 14).
Conception rate (%)

50

The large difference in raw CR1(46.7% 45

vs 53.4%) between induced and non- 40

induced cows was mainly because that 35

30
induced cows calved later in the season
25
(averaging 47.2 days before the start of 20
the breeding season) compared with <=3 4-6 7-9 >=10 Overall LS means

non-induced cows (62.0 days). When Interval (week) from calving to the start of breeding

induced and non-induced cows with Figure 14. Effect of induction and time of
similar calving dates were compared, calving on raw and estimated conception rates.
their CR1 were similar. LS means = least squares means estimates of
conception rate from the model.

Page 25 of 51
Twinning and calving difficulty
Cows giving birth to twin calves had lower CR1 (47.0%, P < 0.0001) than cows giving birth
to a single calf (55.8%). Cows that had calving difficulty had a lower CR1 (50.3%, P < 0001)
than cows that had no calving difficulty (55.8%).

Anoestrus treatment
Cows that were treated for anoestrus had a CR1 that was 13.2% lower than cows that cycled
spontaneously (44.4% versus 57.6%, P < 0.0001).

Time of calving
The interval from calving to first AI 70

(ICAI) affected CR1. The relationship 60
between ICAI and CR1 was

Conception rate (%)
50
curvilinear, with the linear (1.56%, P <
40
0.0001), quadratic (-0.011%, P < 2-year-old
4-year-old
0.0001), and cubic (0.000027%, P < 30
10-year-old
0.01) regression coefficients all being 20

significant. 10
30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120
Interval from calving to first AI (day)
There were also significant effects of
age by ICAI interactions on CR1. The
regression coefficients for the linear Figure 15. Effects of the interval from calving to
term of ICAI increased with age, being first AI on estimated conception rate to first AI
1.45%, 1.47%, 1.48%, 1.53%, 1.55%, for cows aged 2, 4, and 10 years.
1.57%, 1.63%, 1.55% and 1.56% for
cows aged from 2 to 10 years. The changes in estimated CR1 with ICAI for selected age
groups are shown in Figure 15.

It is worthy noting that even for 2-year-old cows with the smallest regression coefficient, the
increase in CR1 with increasing ICAI had not reached a plateau for cows with an ICAI of 120
days. In the seasonal production system in New Zealand, a cow has to calve on the planned
start of calving date and mated on Day 36 after the planned start of mating in order to have an
ICAI of 120 days. What this means is that, in practice, it is very difficult to have cows that
calve early enough to achieve maximal CR1.

Day of AI
55
The day of insemination after the
planned start of the breeding season 53
Conception rate (%)

had a significant effect on CR1 51
beyond its effect through the interval Y = 53.7 + 0.2408X-0.0015X2+0.0001057X3

from calving to insemination. The 49

relationship between day of AI and 47

CR1 was curvilinear, with the linear
45
(0.2408%, P < 0.0001), quadratic (- 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
0.015%, P < 0.0001), and cubic Interval from start of breeding season to first AI (day)

(0.0001057%, P < 0.01) regression
coefficients all being significant Figure 16. Effect of the day of AI after start of
(Figure 16). As can be seen from the breeding season on conception rate to first AI.
figure 16, the variation in CR1

Page 26 of 51
during the first 3 weeks of the breeding season is small. It increased from 53.7% on the first
day of AI (day 0) to the maximum of 54.8% on day 9 and then decreased to 53.4% on day 20.
Thereafter, CR1 dropped more quickly to 45.7% on day 41. The reasons for the large
decrease in CR1 for inseminations made after the first 3 weeks of AI are not clear from the
present study, but could be because that these cows were less fertile due to reasons not
included in the model.

Day of week
There was no significant effect (P = 0.14) of day of the week when insemination was made
on CR1. The weekly pattern of variation in the raw daily CR1 was mainly because that
anoestrous treatment was more likely carried out during weekdays than over the weekend
(Table 9). There is no indication that CR1 on Sunday was lower than other days of the week,
as has been reported in some overseas studies.

Table 9. Variation by day of the week in the percentage of inseminations on anoestrous cow,
raw and least squares means (LSM) conception rates to first artificial insemination (AI).

Number of % of first AI on Conception rate, Conception rate,
first AI anoestrous cows raw (%) LSM (%)
Monday 11373 0.8 54.5 55.2
Tuesday 12685 11.4 53.9 56.3
Wednesday 13239 15.3 53.0 56.3
Thursday 13711 16.6 51.4 55.1
Friday 13048 14.5 52.7 56.1
Saturday 13612 16.3 51.9 55.2
Sunday 11700 4.6 53.9 55.4

Page 27 of 51
Pregnancy rate in the first 42 days of the breeding season
Pregnancy rate in 42 days (PR42) is defined as the percentage of cows in a herd that conceive
during the first 42 days of the breeding season. PR42 is an important measure of reproductive
performance because it is a trait that is affected by both submission rate and conception rate.
The cut-off point is chosen at 42 days after the start of the breeding season for two main
reasons. First, this period is fairly close to the average length of the AI breeding period in this
study (40 days). Second, 42 days is generally considered as the cut-off point between early
and late calving cows under the seasonal production system of New Zealand.

Raw PR42
Table 10 shows the raw PR42 for all 3 seasons. The overall PR42 for all cows was 68.2%,
with little seasonal variation from 67.8% in 1998 to 68.5% in 2000. There was large variation
among herds, with a 20.4% difference in PR42 between the top and bottom quartiles of herds.

Table 10. Pregnancy rate in the first 42 days (PR42) of the breeding season
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of cows 28317 41892 26089 96307
Overall PR42 67.8 68.2 68.5 68.2
PR42 for bottom 25% of herds 56.4 56.8 58.8 57.4
PR42 for top 25% of herds 77.5 77.5 78.4 77.8

Statistical analysis
The PR42 data were analysed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. The following model was
fitted to the data. Herd-season was included in the model as a random factor.

PR42 = µ + season + region + herdtype + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff +
induction + AN_Trted + AN_Trted*breed + ICSBS + ICSBS2 + ICSBS*breed

Where:

Season = the dairy season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, Friesian-Jersey crossbred, and other);
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born at the calving immediately before the
breeding season;
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty. There is no
distinction made to the severity of the calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
AN_trted = whether or not a cow was treated for anoestrus during the breeding
season;
ICSBS = interval from calving to the start of the breeding season (mean = 61.6
days, first percentile = 11 days, 99th percentile = 94 days);

Page 28 of 51
Season
The least squares means estimates for PR42 were lower (P < 0.05) for the 1998 (69.3%)
compared with 1999 (70.8%) and 2000 (71.1%) seasons, but similar between 1999 and 2000
seasons.
75
c
Region b
b
b,c
70 a,b
Regions differed (P = 0.0001) in PR42 a

PR42 (%)
65
(Figure 17). Taranaki had the highest
PR42 of 72.3%, followed by Waikato 60

at 70.6%, South Island at 70.3%, Bay
55
of Plenty at 69.4%, Northland at
68.2%, and Wellington at 66.1%. 50
Northland Waikato Bay Plenty Taranaki Wellington S. Island
Region
Breed and age
There were significant (P < 0.0001) Figure 17. Regional differences in LSM
effects of age, breed and age by breed estimates for PR42. Regions with no common
interactions on PR42. superscript differed (P < 0.05).
80
The least-squares means estimates for
75
PR42 was significantly (P < 0.001)
higher for crossbred (71.7%) cows 70
PR42 (%)

than for Holstein-Friesian (69.8%) or 65

Jersey (69.7%) cows. The lack of 60
difference between Friesian and Jersey
55
cows in the least squares means was in
contrast to the situation with raw 50
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
PR42, where Friesian cows was about Age
3.6% lower than Jersey cows (65.9%
versus 69.5%). This could be caused Figure 18. Least squares means estimates for
by breed differences in other factors in PR42 by age. (P < 0.01 or less)
the model, such as regional distribution 80
in breeds (more Friesian than Jersey Friesian Jersey Crossbred
75
cows in Northland and Wellington
regions that had low PR42) and 70
PR42 (%)

anoestrus treatment (more Friesian 65

than Jersey cows were treated). 60

55
PR42 for 2-year-old cows was low at
66.6% (Figure 18). This increased 50
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
sharply with age to reach a maximum Age
of 75.2% in 4-year-old cows and then
decreased with age to 61.2% in cows Figure 19. Least squares means estimates for
aged 10 years and over. PR42 by age and breeds.

The least squares means estimates for PR42 by age and breeds are shown in Figure 19.
Although the trend for changes in PR42 with age was similar for all three breeds, the relative
performance of the breeds differed within age groups. Friesian cows had significantly lower
(P < 0.05) PR42 than Jersey or crossbred cows for ages 2 and 3 years, whereas Jersey had a
lower PR42 than Friesian or crossbred cows for cows aged 5 years and over.

Page 29 of 51
Time of calving
PR42 was affected by the interval
(days) from calving to the start of the 80
75
breeding season (ICSBS), with the 70
regression coefficients for the linear

In-calf rate (%)
65
(1.07%) and quadratic (-0.005%) 60

terms being significant (P < 0.0001). 55 Friesian
Jersey
50
There were also significant (P < 45
Crossbred

0.0001) effects of breed by ICSBS 40
interactions on PR42. The regression 35
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
coefficients for ICSBS were 1.10%, Interval from calving to start of breeding season (day)

1.02%, and 1.07% for Friesian, Jersey
and crossbred cows, respectively. The Figure 20. Effects of breeds and interval from
relationship between ICSBS and PR42 calving to start of breeding season on final PR42.
is shown in Figure 20 for the 3
breeds. None of the breeds had
reached a plateau during the estimated period. The regression lines for Friesian and Jersey
cows crossed between 55 and 60 days. For cows that calved late in the season, Jersey cows
had a higher PR42 than Friesian cows possibly due to the higher submission rate in Jersey
compared with Friesian cows. However, for cows that calved early in the season, the breed
difference in submission rate was less and the higher PR42 in Friesian cows was mainly due
to its higher conception rate compared with Jersey cows.

Anoestrus treatment
Overall, cows that received treatment for anoestrus had lower (P < 0.0001) PR42 (57.4%)
compared to cows in the same herds that were not treated (73.5%). Cows in herds that did not
treat anoestrous cows had a PR42 of 69.9%, which was not different from that for all cows in
herds that used anoestrus treatment (70.5%). However, this did not necessarily mean that
anoestrus treatment had no benefit because herds that did not use anoestrus treatment might
have a smaller anoestrus problem compared with herds that used anoestrus treatment. The
benefit of anoestrus treatment can only be determined in studies where half of the anoestrous
cows in a herd are treated and the remaining half are left untreated. The effect of anoestrus
treatment on PR42 was similar across all three breeds.

Induction
There was no effect of induction on PR42. The estimated least squares means for induced
cows (70.3%) was almost identical to non-induced cows (70.4%, P = 0.76)

Calving difficulty and twinning
Cows that experienced a difficult calving had an estimated PR42 of 62.9% compared with
70.7% for cows with a normal calving (P < 0.0001). Cows that had twins had a PR42 (64.0%)
that was lower (P < 0.0001) than cows that had singles (70.5%).

SPS versus non-SPS herds
Cows in SPS herds had a slightly lower (P < 0.01) PR42 (70.1%) compared with cows in
non-SPS herds (71.5%).

Page 30 of 51
Final in-calf rate
Final in-calf rate is defined as the percentage of cows in a herd that conceived by the end of
the breeding season. Final in-calf rate is related to empty rate in that empty rate equals 100
minus final in-calf rate. Table 11 shows the raw in-calf rate. The overall in-calf rate is 90%
with little variation between seasons. However, in-calf rate varied significantly among herds,
resulting in a 12.3% difference in in-calf rate between the top 25% and bottom 25% herds.
Cows that were culled or died before pregnancy diagnosis were excluded from in-calf rate
calculation.

Table 11. In-calf rate at the end of the breeding season.
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of cows 28317 41892 26089 96307
Overall final in-calf rate (%) 89.9 90.0 90.1 90.0
Bottom 25% of herds 83.7 82.6 82.8 82.8
Top 25% of herds 94.2 95.5 95.3 95.1

Statistical analysis
The in-calf rate (ICR) data were analysed using the MIXED procedure of SAS. The
following model was fitted to the data. Herd-season was included in the model as a random
factor.

ICR = µ + season + region + herdtype + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff +
induction + AN_Trted + AN_Trted*breed + ICSBS + ICSBS2 + ICSBS*breed

Where:

Season = the dairy season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, Friesian-Jersey crossbred, and other);
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born at the calving immediately before the
breeding season;
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty. There is no
distinction made to the severity of the calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
AN_trted = whether or not a cow was treated for anoestrus during the breeding
season;
ICSBS = interval from calving to the start of breeding season (mean = 61.6 days,
first percentile = 11 days, 99th percentile = 94 days);

Season
The least squares means estimates for final in-calf rate were similar (P = 0.34) across seasons,
being 90.3%, 91.0%, and 91.2% for 1998, 1999, and 2000 seasons, respectively.

Page 31 of 51
Region
Regions differed in final in-calf rate 95
d
(P < 0.01, Figure 21). The Waikato 90 a,b
b,c,d c,d
a
a,b,c

region had the highest in-calf rate of 85

In-calf rate (%)
91.7%, followed by Bay of Plenty and
80
Taranaki both at 91.1%, South Island
75
at 89.8%, Northland at 89.1%, and
70
Wellington at 88.5%.
65

Breed and age 60
Northland Waikato Bay Plenty Taranaki Wellington S. Island

There were significant (P < 0.0001) Region

effects of age, breed and age by breed Figure 21. Regional differences in least squares
interactions on in-calf rate. means estimates for in-calf rate. Regions with no
common superscript differ (P < 0.05).
The least-squares means estimates for
in-calf rate was significantly (P <
0.001) higher for crossbred (91.9%)
cows than for Holstein-Friesian
95
(90.3%) or Jersey (90.1%) cows. The
lack of difference between Friesian 90

and Jersey cows in the least squares 85
In-calf rate (%)

means was in contrast to the situation 80

with raw in-calf rate where Holstein- 75

Friesian cows was about 1.2% lower 70

than Jersey cows (88.7% versus 65

89.9%). This was mainly due to breed 60
differences in other factors, such as 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Age
region and anoestrus treatment, that in
turn affected final in-calf rate. Figure 22. Least squares means estimates for in-
calf rate by age. Means with no common
The final in-calf rate for 2-year-old superscript differ (P < 0.01 or less)
cows was 89.2% (Figure 22). This
increased with age to reach a
maximum of 93.3% in 4-year-old cows
and then decreased with age to 84.4% 100
Friesian Jersey Crossbred
in cows aged 10 years and over. 95
In-calf rate (%)

90
The least squares means estimates for
85
final in-calf rate by age and breeds are
shown in Figure 23. The significant 80

interactions were due to the fact that 75

Friesian cows had a significantly lower 70
in-calf rate than Jersey cows for ages 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

and 3 years, whereas the trend was Age

reversed for cows aged 6 years and Figure 23. Least squares means estimates for in-
older. Crossbred cows maintained an calf rate by age and breeds.
advantage over the pure breeds at all
age groups, except that it was
numerically lower than Jersey cows in the 2-year-old age group.

Page 32 of 51
Time of calving
In-calf rate was affected by the
interval (days) from calving to the 95

start of the breeding season (ICSBS),
90
with the regression coefficients for the

In-calf rate (%)
linear and quadratic (-0.002%) terms 85
being significant (P < 0.0001). There Friesian
Jersey
were also significant (P < 0.0001) 80 Crossbred

effects of breed by ICSBS interactions
on in-calf rate. The regression 75
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90
coefficients for ICSBS were 0.47%, Interval from calving to start of breeding season (day)

0.43%, and 0.42% for Friesian, Jersey
and crossbred cows, respectively. The Figure 24. Effects of breeds and interval from
relationship between ICSBS and in- calving to start of breeding season on final in-calf
calf rate is shown in Figure 24 for the rate.
3 breeds. The regression lines for
Friesian and Jersey cows crossed between 55 and 60 days. For cows that calved late in the
season, Jersey cows had a higher in-calf rate than Friesian cows possibly due to the higher
submission rate in Jersey compared with Friesian cows. However, for cows that calved early
in the season, the breed difference in submission rate was less and the higher final in-calf rate
in Friesian cows was mainly due to its higher conception rate compared with Jersey cows.

Anoestrus treatment
Overall, cows that received treatment for anoestrus had lower (P < 0.0001) final in-calf rate
(85.7%) compared to cows in the same herds that were not treated (92.0%). Cows in herds
that did not treat anoestrous cows had a final in-calf rate of 90.5%, which was not different
from that for all cows in herds that used anoestrous treatment (90.9%).

The magnitude of difference in in-calf rate between cows treated and not treated for anoestrus
differed (P < 0.0001) among breeds, these being 7.9 percentage units for Friesian cows
(84.0% versus 91.9%, P < 0.0001), 3.7 percentage units for Jersey cows (86.6% and 90.3%, P
< 0.0001), and 5.7 percentage units for crossbred cows (87.3% and 93.0%, P < 0.0001).

Induction
The estimated final in-calf rate for induced cows (91.6%) was slightly higher (P < 0.05) than
that for non-induced cows (90.8%). The reason for this increase in final in-calf rate is not
clear, but it would be incorrect to interpret this difference as an indication that induced
calving actually improved final in-calf rate. Nevertheless, it would be reasonable to conclude
that induction had no negative effect on final in-calf rate.

Calving difficulty and twinning
Cows that experienced a difficult calving had an estimated final in-calf rate of 85.0%
compared with 91.0% for cows with a normal calving (P < 0.0001). Cows that had twins had
a final in-calf rate (85.6%) that was lower (P < 0.0001) than cows that had singles (90.9%).

SPS versus non-SPS herds
Cows in SPS herds had a similar final in-calf rate (90.7%) to cows in non-SPS herds (91.3%).

Page 33 of 51
Relationship between protein percentage and reproduction
Recent studies have shown a positive correlation between milk protein percentage and
reproductive performance. Although it is unlikely that protein percentage per se affects
reproductive performance, a high protein percentage is probably a good indicator of the
current nutritional status of the animal. To investigate the relationship between protein
percentage and reproductive performance in the current study, the protein percentage at the
herd test closest to the start of the breeding season was used. The mean protein percentage
was 3.60% with a standard deviation of 0.37%. The median protein percentage was 3.57%,
slightly to the left of the mean. Protein percentage was added to the models that were
previously used to analyse anoestrus rate, submission rate, conception rate to first AI, and
pregnancy rate in 42 days. Two analyses were performance, one with protein percentage as a
covariate and the other with protein percentage being classified into quartiles. Similar
conclusions can be drawn from both analyses and results from the analyses based on quartiles
are presented.

Protein percentage was significantly related to the percentage of cows treated for anoestrus
(Table 12). Although there were significant (P < 0.05) interactions between breed and protein
percentage, this was mainly due to breed differences in the magnitude of the differences
between protein percentage groups. The trend was the same for all three breeds.

Table 12. Raw and least squares means (LSM) estimates of the percentage of cows treated
for anoestrus for all cows and cows of different breeds.
Cows, n 1st Quartile 2nd Quartile 3rd Quartile 4th Quartile
All cows, raw data 80,055 26.2 18.5 13.3 8.3
All cows, LSM 80,055 22.0 16.9 13.8 11.8
Friesian, LSM 36,017 23.7 19.1 15.1 14.1
Jersey, LSM 13,467 17.8 15.4 12.7 11.0
Crossbred, LSM 29,823 21.3 14.7 12.4 9.3

The reproductive performance of cows in different protein percentage quartiles is shown in
Table 13. There appeared to be a curvilinear relationship between protein percentage and
reproductive performance. The relationship became weaker as protein percentage increased.
This curvilinear relationship was confirmed by analyses where protein percentage was
included as a covariate; both the linear (positive) and quadratic (negative) terms were
significant. Further studies are needed to ascertain the nature of this relationship between
protein percentage and reproductive performance. Fat percentage had a relationship with
reproductive performance that was similar to protein percentage, although the strength of the
relationship was less. Protein to fat ratio had little correlation with reproductive performance.

Table 13. Raw and least squares means (LSM) estimates of submission rate, conception rate,
and pregnancy rate in 42 days for cows in different protein percentage quartiles.
Submission rate Conception rate Pregnancy rate in 42 days
Quartiles Raw LSM Raw LSM Raw LSM
1 74.0 80.1 47.8 53.9 60.9 65.9
2 80.0 83.8 52.1 56.2 67.5 70.3
3 84.1 86.8 54.9 57.6 71.3 72.5
4 86.8 88.4 57.5 58.5 74.7 74.2

Page 34 of 51
Factors affecting reproductive performance at the herd level
In the study, some management information was also collected. This allows a preliminary
look at the effects of these herd-level factors on reproductive performance, namely
submission rate in the first 3 weeks, conception rate to first AI, and pregnancy rate in the first
42 days of breeding.

The LOGISTIC procedure of SAS was used to analyse the effects of herd-level factors on
reproductive performance. The link function is logit and LOGISTIC produces maximum
likelihood estimation using the Fisher-scoring algorithm. The following general model was
used to analyse various reproductive performance parameters.

Events/trials = µ + season + region + herdtype + operation_type + owner_age + education +
mob + labour + anoestrus + heat_obs_ppl + owner_obs_ind + manager_obs_ind +
labour_obs_ind + herdsize + MS305

Where:

Events = number of observed events (e.g. cows submitted or conceived);
trials = total number of observations (e.g. cows in herds or first AI);
Season = the season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999, 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Herdtype = the type of herd (SPS or non-SPS);
Owner_age = age class of the herd manager (<=30, 31-40, 41-50 and >50);
Education = education qualification of the herd manager (high school,
polytechnic, university);
Mob = whether or not cows were managed in mobs;
Labour = number of labour units on the farmer (1, 1.1-2, >=3);
anoestrus = usage of anoestrus treatment (1 = usage before day 13 after the
start of the breeding season, 2 = usage after day 13, 3 = no
usage);
Heat_obs_ppl = number of people doing heat detection (1, 2, >=3);
Owner_obs_ind = whether or not herd owner did heat detection (yes or no);
Manager_obs_ind = whether or not herd manager did heat detection (yes or no);
labour_obs_ind = whether or not farm labour did heat detection (yes or no);
herdsize = number of cows in the herd;
MS305 = average 305-day milk solid yield for cows in the herd.

Although season, region, and herd type were included in the model, these factors were not
discussed in the current context because their effects are better tested under the model for
individual cows. However, they are included in the current analyses so that their effects on
other factors in the model can be accounted for.

In this section, the significance of effects was expressed using odds ratio (O.R.) followed by
its 95% confidence interval in bracket. Odds ratio measures the relative odds for an event
(such as conception) to occur in the presence or absence of a risk factor (such as induction).
For example, the odds ratio for conception rate between induced (47%) and non-induced
cows (53%) is 0.79 ([0.47/(1-0.47)]/[0.53/(1-0.53)]). For a continuous risk factor, odds ratio
measures the relative odds for a unit increase in the risk factor. A risk factor is considered
statistically non-significant at the 5% level if the 95% confidence interval overlaps one.

Page 35 of 51
Anoestrus treatment usage
Treatment of anoestrus cows before day 13 after the start of the breeding season improved
herd submission rate compared with treatment after day 13 (O.R. = 1.62 [1.56–1.68]). Herds
that did not use anoestrus treatment had only a slightly better submission rate than herds that
treated after day 13 (O.R. = 1.16 [1.10–1.22]).

In contrast, treatment of anoestrus cows before day 13 reduced conception rate to first AI
compared with treatment after day 13 (O.R. = 0.94 [0.90–0.97]). For unknown reasons, herds
that did not use anoestrus treatment also had a lower conception rate to first AI than herds
that treated anoestrous cows after day 13 (O.R. = 0.93 [0.88–0.97]).

The pregnancy rate in 42 days was lower for herds that did not treat anoestrus cows than
herds that used anoestrus treatment before (O.R. = 0.91 [0.88–0.95]) or after day 13 (O.R. =
0.91 [0.87–0.95]). There was no difference in pregnancy rate between herds that treated
anoestrous cows before and after day 13 (O.R. = 0.99 [0.96–1.03]).

The above reported effect of anoestrus treatment on pregnancy rate in 42 days at the herd
level is different from the conclusion when anoestrus treatment was analysed at the individual
cow level (refer to the “Anoestrus treatment” section on Page 30). This was likely caused by
differences in the factors included in the two models for the analyses. In the cow-level
analyses reported on page 30, lack of a difference in pregnancy rate in 42 days between herds
that did or did not use anoestrus treatment could be due differences between the two groups
of herds in some herd-level factors, such as nutrition and heat detection. Adjustment of these
factors in the herd-level analyses revealed the benefit from treating anoestrous cows.

Farm operation type
Compared with the submission rate for sharemilker herds, submission rate was significantly
(P < 0.0001) reduced for owner-operator herds (O.R. = 0.77 [0.73–0.80]) and herds managed
by herd managers (O.R. = 0.52 [0.48–0.57]). For conception rate, it was lower for owner-
operator herds (O.R. = 0.90 [0.87–0.94]) compared with sharemilker herds, but was similar
between herd-manager herds and sharemilker herds (O.R. = 0.94 [0.87–1.02]). Pregnancy
rate in 42 days was lower for owner-operator herds (O.R. = 0.85 [0.82–0.89]) and herd-
manager herds (O.R. = 0.73 [0.67–0.79) than for sharemilker herds. Herd-manager herds had
lower pregnancy rate in 42 days than owner-operator herds (O.R. = 0.85 [0.78–0.93])

Farmer age
The age group of the person that managed the herd had a small but significant (P < 0.0001)
effect on submission rate. Compared with herds whose managers were in the over 50 group,
the submission rate was lower for herds whose managers were in the <=30 (O.R. = 0.86
[0.78–0.95]), 31–40 (O.R. = 0.92 [0.85–0.998]), and 41–50 (O.R.= 0.87 [0.81–0.94]) age
groups. In contrast, farmer age had the opposite effect on conception rate. Compared with
herds whose managers were in the over 50 age group, the conception rate was higher for
herds whose managers were in the <=30 (O.R. = 1.18 [1.09–1.28]), 31–40 (O.R. = 1.07
[1.00–1.14]), and 41–50 (O.R.= 1.14 [1.07–1.21]) age groups. As a result, farmer age had no
effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days.

Farmer education
The submission rate of herds whose managers had University education was higher than that
of herds whose managers had polytechnic education (O.R. = 1.12 [1.06–1.18]), but was

Page 36 of 51
similar to herds whose managers had high school education (O.R. = 1.03 [0.98–1.08]). The
conception rate of herds whose managers had high school education was higher than that of
herds whose managers had university (O.R. = 1.05 [1.01–1.09]) or polytechnic (O.R. = 1.06
[1.02–1.11]) education. There was no difference in conception rate between herds whose
managers had university or polytechnic education. Pregnancy rate in 42 days was lower for
herds whose managers had polytechnic education compared with herds whose managers had
a university education (O.R. = 0.94 [0.90–0.98]), but there was no difference between herds
whose managers had high school education versus university education (O.R. = 1.02 [0.98–
1.05]).

Labour units on farm
More labour units had a positive effects on submission rate, conception rate and pregnancy
rates. Herds with more than 2 labour units had higher submission rates than herds with one
(O.R. = 1.17 [1.09–1.26]) or 1.3–2 (O.R. = 1.16 [1.10–1.22]) labour units. Herds with more
than 2 labour units had a higher conception rate than herds with one (O.R. = 1.07 [1.01–
1.14]) or 1.3–2 (O.R. = 1.06 [1.02–1.11]) labour units. Similarly, herds with more than 2
labour units had higher pregnancy rate in 42 days than herds with one (O.R. = 1.08 [1.02–
1.15]) or 1.3–2 (O.R. = 1.10 [1.05–1.15]) labour units. There was no significant difference
between herds with one or 1.3–2 labour units in any of the parameters.

Heat detection practices
Heat detection practices included the number of people involved in herd detection and who
(herd owner, herd manager, or farm labour) were involved in heat detection. The number of
heat detection periods per day and the duration of each period were also collected, but were
not included in the analyses due to concerns with data quality. It appeared that farmers did
not supply consistent data on these two practices. For example, the number of heat detection
periods varied from 1 to 8 and the duration of each period varied from 1 to 120 minutes.

Compared with the conception rate for herds where three or more people did heat detection,
the submission rate was higher for herds where only one (O.R. = 1.16 [1.07–1.26]) or two
(O.R. = 1.23 [1.45–1.32]) people did heat detection. The submission rate for herds where
herd owners or herd managers did heat detection were, respectively, higher than those for
herds where herd owners or herd managers did not do heat detection (herd owner: O.R. =
1.33 [1.24–1.43]; herd manager: O.R. = 1.12 [1.06–1.19]). In contrast, submission rate for
herds where farm labours did heat detection was lower than that for herds where farm labours
did not do heat detection (O.R. = 0.91 [0.86–0.96]).

Conception rate to first AI was higher for herds where only one person did heat detection
compared with herds where 3 or more people did heat detection (O.R. = 1.07 [1.00–1.15]),
but there was no difference between herds where two versus 3 or more people did heat
detection. Herds where herd owners or herd managers did heat detection had higher
conception rate than herds where herd owners or herd manager did not do heat detection
(herd owner: O.R. = 1.08 [1.02–1.14]; herd manager: O.R. = 1.05 [1.01–1.10]). However,
heat detection by farm labours had no significant effect on conception rate. Most of the
effects of heat detection practices on conception rate acted through their effects on
submission rate. After adjusting for submission rate, the only significant factor was heat
detection by farm labour, which had a positive effect on conception rate. It appeared that
farm labours were very conservative in their interpretation of oestrous behaviour signs.

Page 37 of 51
Pregnancy rate in 42 days was higher for herds where only one (O.R. = 1.11 [1.03–1.19]) or
two (O.R. = 1.10 [1.04–1.16]) people did heat detection compared with herds where 3 or
more people did heat detection. Pregnancy rate was higher for herds where herd owners did
heat detection than for herds where herd owners did not do heat detection (O.R. = 1.13 [1.07–
1.20]). It was also higher for herds where herd managers did heat detection than herds where
herd managers did not do heat detection (O.R. = 1.07 [1.02–1.13]). However, heat detection
by labour units had no effect on pregnancy rate in 42 days (P = 0.29).

Mob management
Separation of cows in a herd into mobs during the premating and mating period had no effect
on submission rate (P = 0.77), but slightly improved conception rate to first AI (O.R. = 1.04
[1.00-1.08]) and pregnancy rate in 42 days (O.R. = 1.05 [1.01–1.09]).

Herd size
Herd size had a very small, although significant (P < 0.0001), negative effect on all three
reproductive performance parameters. The odds ratios for an increase of 50 cows in herd size
were 0.98 for all three parameters.

Milk yield
The average milk solid yield of cows in a herd had a significant (P < 0.0001) positive effect
on submission rate. The odds ratio for a 10 kg increase in milk solid production was 1.045
(1.041–1.05). In comparison, the effect of milk solid yield on conception rate was smaller,
with the odds ratio being 1.014 (1.010–1.018) for a 10 kg increase in milk solid. For
pregnancy rate in 42 days, the odds ratio for a 10 kg increase in milk solid yield was 1.022
(1.018–1.026).

Interrelationships among various reproductive parameters
There are strong correlations among the three parameters studied in this section, especially
between submission rate and pregnancy rate in 42 days (r = 0.63) and between conception
rate and pregnancy rate in 42 days (r = 0.75). After adjusting for submission rate and
conception rate, most factors in the model had no significant effects on pregnancy rate in 42
days.

General comments on herd reproductive performance
Results reported in this section represent a very preliminary investigation into factors
affecting reproductive performance at the herd level. Despite their statistical significance,
most factors had only a very small effect on herd reproductive performance. To put this into
perspective, an odds ration of 1.1 represents about a 2.3% difference in conception rate and
1.5% difference in submission rate. A lot of the variation among herds in reproductive
performance can not be explained by the factors measured in the current study. If each herd
was considered as one observation, the R2 of the model was 40% for submission rate, 30%
for pregnancy rate in 42 days, and 25% for conception rate.

Page 38 of 51
Diseases and health problems
Participating farmers were asked to record the date of occurrence of common diseases and
health problems. Calving difficulty was recorded as part of the routine calving information.
Table 14 shows the occurrence of disease and health events over the 3 seasons. Overall
disease incidence was 25.5% per season. This did not mean that 25.5% of cows in the study
had a disease or health problem because some cows had more than one disease or more than
one case of the same disease. Mastitis accounted for over 45% of the recorded cases,
followed by feet and leg problems at 20.5% and calving difficulty at 12.9%. Metabolic
diseases, which included milk fever, magnesium staggers and ketosis, accounted for 7.0% of
the recorded cases. The relative incidence of retained placenta was 6.0%. Uterine infection
included endometritis and pyometra and accounted about 1.9% of the cases. This was
probably an under-estimate of the true incidence of uterine infection because of the difficulty
in identifying cows with uterine infection. All other unidentified diseases accounted for 3.6 %
of the total cases.

Table 14. Statistics on diseases and health problems.
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of cows* 27837 43260 26761 97858
Total disease cases 6528 11137 7265 24930
Disease cases/cow (%)
Overall 23.4 25.7 27.1 25.5
Calving difficulty 3.0 3.2 3.6 3.3
Facial eczema 0.6 0.1 0.1 0.3
Feet and leg problems 4.0 5.3 6.4 5.2
Mastitis 11.1 12.4 12.3 12.0
Metabolic diseases 1.8 1.8 1.8 1.8
Retained placenta 1.6 1.6 1.4 1.5
Uterine infection 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.5
Other diseases 0.9 0.8 1.0 0.9
Disease cases/total case (%)
Calving difficulty 12.9 12.6 13.3 12.9
Facial eczema 2.4 0.5 0.5 1.0
Feet and leg problems 16.9 20.8 23.5 20.5
Mastitis 47.3 48.0 45.4 47.1
Metabolic diseases 7.7 7.0 6.5 7.0
Retained placenta 6.9 6.1 5.2 6.0
Uterine infection 1.9 1.8 2.1 1.9
Other diseases 4.0 3.3 3.6 3.6
* Only herds that supplied disease information were included in the calculation. Twelve
herds did not supply disease information.

Statistical analyses
The effects of various factors on the occurrence of diseases were analysed using the MIXED
procedure of SAS. Separate analyses were performed for each disease. The following model
was used, with herd-season being included in the model as a random factor:

Page 39 of 51
Disease = µ + season + region + age + breed + age*breed + twinning + calvdiff +
induction + abortion + ICSBS

Where:
Season = the dairy season in which the data were collected (1998, 1999 or 2000);
Region = LIC regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6);
Age = age of the cow at the start of the season (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10+);
Breed = breed of the cow (Friesian, Jersey, and Friesian-Jersey crossbred). Other
breeds were excluded from the analysis because of their small numbers;
Twinning = number of calves (1 or 2) born;
Calvdiff = whether or not the cow experienced calving difficulty;
Induction = whether or not the calving was induced;
Abortion = whether or not the cow had an abortion or premature birth;
ICSBS = interval (week) from calving to the start of breeding season;

Calving difficulty
The overall incidence of calving difficulty was 3.3% per calving and this value was lower
than the 4.7% for calving of AI calves only in a previous study. There was no seasonal
variation in calving difficulty. Cows in the Wellington region had a higher (P < 0.05)
incidence of calving difficulty (5.2%)
5.5
than cows in Waikato (3.2%), Bay of a
Cows with calving difficulty (%)

5.0
Plenty (3.0%), Taranaki (3.4%) and 4.5
South Island (3.1%), but similar to 4.0
d
cows in Northland (4.3%). There was 3.5
b,d
d
d d

no difference between other regions. 3.0
c
b,c

2.5 c

There were significant effects of breed, 2.0

1.5
age and breed by age interactions on
1.0
the incidence of calving difficulty. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Friesian cows had a high incidence of Age

calving difficulty (3.8%) than Jersey
Figure 25. Least square means for the incidence
(3.2%, P < 0.01) and crossbred cows
of calving difficulty by cow age. Means with no
(3.0%, P < 0.0001). The effect of age
common superscript differ (P< 0.05)
on the incidence of calving difficulty is
shown in Figure 25. The incidence of
calving difficulty was highest in 2-year- 7.0
6.5
Cows with calving difficulty (%)

old cows, lowest numerically in 5-year- 6.0
Friesian Jersey Crossbred

old cows, and were similar among cows 5.5
5.0
aged 7 years and over. 4.5
4.0
3.5
The effect of age on the incidence of 3.0
2.5
calving difficulty for the 3 breeds is 2.0
shown in Figure 26. Breed difference 1.5
1.0
in the incidence of calving difficult was 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
most prominent in 2-year-old cows, Age

where Friesian cows had a higher (P <
0.0001) incidence of calving difficulty Figure 26. Least square means for the incidence
than Jersey and crossbred cows. of calving difficulty for Friesian, Jersey and
Although there was no significant crossbred cows of different ages.

Page 40 of 51
difference between breeds within any other age groups, it appeared that Friesian had higher
incidence of calving difficulty than Jersey in younger cows (5 years and under), whereas the
trend was reversed for older cows (6 years and over).

The incidence of calving difficulty for cows that had twins was higher than those that had
singles (8.4% versus 3.4%, P < 0.0001). Induced cows had a higher incidence of calving
difficulty (5.6%, P < 0.0001) than non-induced cows (3.3%).

Retained placenta
Only one incidence of retained placenta is allowed per calving, although a few cows were
diagnosed as having retained placenta on more than one occasion in the same season.

There was no effect of season on the incidence of retained placenta. Cows in Northland
region had a lower incidence of retained placenta (0.7%, P < 0.05) than cows in Waikato
(1.9%), Bay of Plenty (1.8%) and South Island (1.7%) regions, but had a similar incidence to
cows in Taranaki (1.4%) and Wellington (1.2%) regions. There was no significant difference
between other regions.

Friesian cows had a higher incidence
2.5
of retained placenta (1.8%) than Jersey
Cows with retained placenta (%)

2.3
(1.3%, P < 0.01) and crossbred (1.5%, 2.1
P < 0.05) cows. The effect of age on 1.9

the incidence of retained placenta is 1.7
1.5
shown in Figure 27. Older cows (9 1.3
and 10 years) had a higher incidence of 1.1

retained placenta than younger cows. It 0.9
0.7
is worthy noting that, despite their high
0.5
incidence of calving difficulty, 2-year- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

old cows had a similar or lower Age

incidence of retained placenta
Figure 27. Least square means for the incidence
compared with older cows. This could
of retained placenta for cows of different ages.
be due to the relatively low incidence
of metabolic disorders in younger cows
(see Figure 29 on page 42), which is 5
generally considered a risk factor for
Cows with retained placenta (%)

4.5
retained placenta. There were no 4

significant age by breed interactions. 3.5

3
2.5
To investigate if the time of calving
2
had any effect on the incidence of 1.5
retained placenta, the time of calving 1
(in weeks) relative to the start of the 0.5
breeding season (ICSBS) was included 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Interval from calving to the start of breeding season (week)
in the model as a class variable. This
was considered more appropriate than Figure 28. Least square means for the incidence
to include ICSBS (in days) as a of retained placenta by the interval (week) from
continuous variable because of the low calving to the start of the breeding season.
incidence of retained placenta. Least
squares means estimates from the
model for ICSBS is shown in Figure 28. Retained placenta was more prevalent in cows that

Page 41 of 51
calved around the planned start of calving date (week 12), especially those before the planned
start of calving (weeks 13 and 14). The reasons for this are not clear, but could be related to
the seasonal variation in nutrition and weather conditions.

The incidence of retained placenta for cows that had twins was 10 percentage units higher
than those that had singles (11.8% versus 1.5%, P < 0.0001). Cows that experienced calving
difficulty had a higher incidence of retained placenta than cows that calved normally (3.9%
versus 1.5%, P < 0.0001). Induced cows had a higher incidence of retained placenta (4.1%, P
< 0.0001) than non-induced cows (1.4%). Cows that calved prematurely (as judged by
farmers) had a 12.2% incidence of retained placenta compared with 1.5% for cows that
calved at term (P < 0.0001).

Metabolic diseases
In the data set, there were 1746 reported cases of metabolic diseases. In most cases, each
cow (1693) had only one metabolic case per season, but 26 cows had multiple cases.

There were no significant differences among seasons (2.0% for 1998 and 1.9% for 1999 and
2000, P = 0.95) in the incidence of metabolic diseases. Cows in Northland (1.1%) and
Wellington (1.4%) had a lower (P < 0.05) incidence of metabolic problems than cows in the
Bay of Plenty (2.6%), but had a similar
incidence to cows in Waikato (2.0%), 9
Taranaki (2.1%) and South Island Friesian
Metabolic disease cases/cow (%)

8 Jersey

(1.8%). There was no significant 7 Crossbred

difference between other regions. 6

5

4
There were significant effects of age 3
by breed interactions on the incidence 2
of metabolic diseases (P<0.0001, 1

Figure 29). For all 3 breeds, the 0
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
incidence of metabolic diseases was Age
low (< 1%) for younger cows aged 2 to
4 years, but increased sharply Figure 29. Least square means for the incidence
thereafter with age. Younger (2 and 3 of metabolic diseases for Friesian, Jersey and
years) Jersey cows had virtually no crossbred cows of different ages.
metabolic problems, but older (6 to 10
years) Jersey cows had a higher 3.0
incidence of metabolic diseases than
Metabolic disease case/cow (%)

2.5
Friesian and crossbred cows.
2.0

The time of calving had a significant 1.5
(P < 0.01) but small effect on the
1.0
incidence of metabolic diseases. Cows
that calved during week 7 before start 0.5

of the breeding season (Week 5 after 0.0
the planned start of calving) had the 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Interval from calving to the start of breeding season (week)
lowest incidence of metabolic diseases
(Figure 30). The incidence of Figure 30. Least square means for the incidence
metabolic diseases for cows that had of metabolic diseases by the interval (week) from
twins (2.8%) was higher than those calving to the start of the breeding season.
that had singles (1.9%, P < 0.05).

Page 42 of 51
Cows that experienced calving difficulty had a higher incidence of metabolic diseases (3.7%)
than cows that calved normally (1.9%, P < 0.0001). Induced cows had a higher incidence of
metabolic diseases (2.6%, P = 0.0001) than non-induced cows (1.9%). Cows that calved
prematurely had a lower (P < 0.01) incidence of metabolic diseases (0.3%) compared with
cows that calved at term (2.0%).

Mastitis
There were a total of 11,735 cases of clinical mastitis in 9,982 cow-season combinations,
resulting in 1.18 cases per cow per season. Most cows (8,575 cows, 85.9%) had only one
mastitis case in a season and the rest had 2 (1,133 cows, 11.4%), 3 (215 cows, 2.2%), 4 (48
cows, 0.5%), 5 (9 cows, 0.1%) and 6 (2 cows, 0.02%) cases in one season. In the analyses,
each case was treated as a separate record.

There were no effect of season (P = 0.49), twinning (P = 0.18), calving difficulty (P = 0.37),
and premature birth (P = 0.38) on the incidence of mastitis.

Regions differed in the incidence of mastitis. Northland (7.4%) and Wellington (8.0%)
regions had a lower (P < 0.05) incidence of mastitis than Waikato (12.4%), Bay of Plenty
(13.1%), Taranaki (12.0%) and South Island (12.0%) regions. There was no significant
difference between other regions.
20
Age and breed both had significant Friesian

(P < 0.0001) effects on the incidence 17
Jersey
Crossbred
Mastitis cases/cow (%)

of mastitis and there were also
significant (P < 0.0001) age by breed 14

interactions (Figure 31). For all 3 11
breeds, the incidence of mastitis was
relatively high for 2-year-old cows, 8

lowest in 3-year-old cows, and
5
thereafter increased with increasing 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >=10
age to reach above-average levels in Age

cows ≥7 years. Overall, Friesian cows
Figure 31. Least square means for the incidence
had a higher (P < 0.0001) incidence of
of mastitis for Friesian, Jersey and crossbred
mastitis (12.5%) than Jersey cows
cows of different ages.
(10.3%), with crossbred cows being in
between (11.4%, P < 0.01). The only
exception was for 2-year-old cows, 13
where crossbred cows had a higher (P
< 0.05) incidence of mastitis (12.7%)
Mastitis case/cow (%)

11
than Friesian cows (11.6%), with
Jersey cows being in between (12.1%). 9

Time of calving also had a significant 7
(P < 0.01) effect on the incidence of
mastitis (Figure 32). Cows that calved 5
before the planned start of calving 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Interval from calving to the start of breeding season (week)
(week 12 before the start of the
breeding season) had a lower incidence Figure 32. Least square means for the incidence
of mastitis than cows that calved after of mastitis by the interval (week) from calving to
the planned start of calving. The the start of the breeding season.

Page 43 of 51
reasons for this are not clear. Induced cows had a slightly lower incidence of mastitis than
non-induced cows (10.0% versus 11.8%, P < 0.0001).

Feet and leg problems (lameness)
There were 5,120 cases of lameness in 4,366 cow-seasons, resulting in 1.17 cases per cow per
season. Most cows (3,787 cows, 86.7%) had only one lameness case in a season and the rest
had 2 (449 cows, 10.1%), 3 (96 cows, 2.2%), 4 (36 cows, 0.6%), 5 (5 cows, 0.1%) and 6 (3
cows, 0.07%) cases in a season. In the analyses, each case was treated as a separate record.

Cows in 1998 had a lower (P < 0.05) incidence of lameness (3.9%) than in 2000 (5.6%), with
cows in 1999 being in between (4.7%) and not different from other seasons. Cows in the
South Island region had a higher incidence of lameness (7.5%) than cows in Waikato (3.8%,
P < 0.001), Bay of Plenty (3.4%, P < 0.01), and Taranaki (4.9%, P < 0.05) regions, but had a
similar incidence to cows in Northland (5.6%) and Wellington (5.3%) regions. No other
differences between regions were
significant. 9
Friesian
8 Jersey
Lameness cases/cow (%)

Crossbred
7
There were no significant effects of
6
twinning (P = 0.98), calving difficulty
5
(P = 0.14), induction (P = 0.90), and 4
premature calving (P = 0.66) on the 3
incidence of lameness. 2

1

There were significant (P < 0.0001) 0
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >=10
effects of age, breed and age by breed Age
interactions on lameness (Figure 33).
Overall, the incidence of lameness was Figure 33. Least square means for the incidence
higher (P < 0.0001) for Friesian (5.4%) of lameness for Friesian, Jersey and crossbred
than for Jersey (3.8%) and crossbred cows of different ages.
(4.3%) cows. For all 3 breeds, the
incidence of lameness was relatively 6

high for 2-year-old cows, was lowest 5
in 3-year-old cows, and thereafter
Lameness case/cow (%)

increased with age to reach high levels 4

in older cows (7 years and over). There 3

were little breed differences in the 2
incidence of lameness among cows
1
aged 3 or 4 years.
0
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Time of calving had a significant (P < Interval from calving to the start of breeding season (week)
0.0001) effect on lameness, with early
calving cows (8-13 weeks) having a Figure 34. Least square means for the incidence
higher incidence of lameness than late of lameness by the interval (week) from calving
calving cows (2-7 weeks; Figure 34). to the start of the breeding season.

Uterine infection
There were 472 cases of uterine infection in 452 cows. In most cases (n=443), each cow had
one uterine infection case in a season. However, 13 cows had 2 cases in a season and 1 cow
had 3 cases in a season.

Page 44 of 51
The incidence of uterine infection was significantly affected by events associated with
calving. Cows that gave birth to twins had a higher incidence of uterine infection than cows
that gave birth to singles (3.1% versus 0.48%, P < 0.0001). Cows that experienced calving
difficulty had a higher incidence of uterine infection than cows that calved normally (1.7%
versus 0.47%, P < 0.0001). Induced cows had a higher incidence of uterine infection than
non-induced cows (1.0% versus 0.48%, P < 0.0001). Cows that suffered from abortion or
premature birth had a higher incidence of uterine infection than cows that calved at term
(3.1% versus 0.49%, P < 0.0001).

Crossbred cows had a lower incidence of uterine infection (0.43%) than Friesian (0.54%, P <
0.05) or Jersey (0.59%, P < 0.05) cows. Two-year-old cows had a higher incidence of uterine
infection (0.70%) than cows aged 3 (0.49%, P < 0.01), 4 (0.39%, P < 0.0001), 5 (0.37%, P <
0.0001), 6 (0.51%, P < 0.05), 7 (0.38%, P < 0.001), and 10 (0.49, P < 0.05) years, but similar
to cows aged 8 (0.60%) and 9 (0.59%) years. The incidence was higher (P < 0.05) for 8-year-
old cows compared with cows aged 4, 5, and 7 years. The time (week) of calving relative to
the start of the breeding season had a significant effect on the incidence of uterine infection,
but there was no general trend, ranging from 0.62% for cows calved during week 12 to 0.42%
for cows calved during week 10.

Effects of diseases on reproductive performance
To determine the effects of various diseases on reproductive performance, the models that
were previously used to analyse submission rate, conception rate, and final in-calf rate were
expanded to include the five major disease categories (mastitis, lameness, retained placenta,
uterine infection, and metabolic disorders). Calving difficulty had been included in the
original analyses. Separate analyses were performed because not all herd owners had
supplied disease information. To analyse the effects of diseases on reproductive performance,
only herds that had supplied disease information were used.

For retained placenta, uterine infection and metabolic disorders, most cases occurred before
the start of the breeding season. Therefore, no distinction was made with regard to the time of
occurrence of these disease cases. For mastitis and lameness, a distinction was made as to
when the disease occurred. The reference points are 21 days after the start of the breeding
season for submission rate, date of first AI for conception rate to first AI, and end of the
breeding season for final in-calf rate. No distinction was made between single and multiple
cases of the same problem.

Submission rate
Submission rate in the first 3 weeks of the breeding season was affected by all five disease
categories. Compared with the submission rate for cows that did not suffer from the
respective diseases (all at 84.8%), submission rate was lower (P < 0.0001) for cows that had
retained placenta (80.6%), uterine infection (75.6%), or metabolic disorders (81.0%). Cows
that suffered from lameness before or within the first 21 days of the breeding season had a
lower submission rate (79.6%) than cows that did not have lameness (84.9%, P < 0.0001) or
cows that had lameness after the first 21 days of the breeding season (83.3%, P < 0.001).
Submission rate for cows that had lameness after the first 21 days of the breeding was lower
(P = 0.05) than cows that did not have lameness. Mastitis had only a small effect on
submission rate. Cows that had mastitis before or within the first 21 days of the breeding
season had a lower submission rate than cows that did not have mastitis (83.8% versus
84.9%, P < 0.01)

Page 45 of 51
Conception rate to first AI
Conception rate to first AI was adversely affected by retained placenta (45.8% versus 55.9%,
P < 0.0001) and uterine infection (45.2% versus 55.8%, P < 0.0001), but was not affected by
metabolic disorders (53.8% versus 55.7%, P = 0.16). Mastitis before the first AI had no effect
on conception rate to first AI (55.2% versus 55.8%, P = 0.26), whereas mastitis after AI
reduced conception rate to first AI (51.8% versus 55.8%, P < 0.005). Cows that had lameness
both before (52.9%) and after (53.4%) first AI had lower (P < 0.05) conception rates
compared with cows that did not have lameness (55.8%).

Final in-calf rate
The in-calf rate at the end of the breeding season was most adversely affected by retained
placenta (81.0% versus 91.0%, P < 0.0001) and uterine infection (77.7% versus 91.0%, P <
0.0001), but not by mastitis either before (90.5% versus 90.9%) or after (91.4% versus
90.9%) the end of the breeding season. Lameness before (88.5% versus 90.9%, P < 0.0001),
but not after (91.4% versus 90.9%, P=0.73) the end of the breeding season reduced final in-
calf rate. Metabolic disorders reduced final in-calf rate slightly (89.3% versus 90.9%, P <
0.05).

Page 46 of 51
Miscellaneous statistics
This section contains various statistics of interest, but no statistical analysis has been carried
out on these statistics. Therefore, they represent raw statistics for herds involved in the
present study.

Replacement statistics
Replacement rate is loosely defined as the percentage of cows that were dead, sold or culled
during the season divided by the total number of cows that calved at the start of the season.
Season is defined in this context as the interval from one calving to the next calving or to the
start of the next breeding season for cows that did not conceive during the season. Table 15
shows the various replacement statistics for the 3 seasons.

There appeared to be seasonal differences in replacement rate, being lower in the 2000 season
compared with the other two seasons. This was probably driven by the large increase in the
national cow population in that season (Dairy Statistics, 2000/2001). The death rate was
about 2% and between 4% and 5% of cows were sold for dairying.

Of the cows that were culled, the main reason for culling was poor reproductive performance
(empty and late conception), which accounted for 46.8% of culled cows. In comparison, only

Table 15. Replacement statistics over 3 seasons.
1998 1999 2000 Overall

Total number of cows (n) 29041 43868 25322 98231
Cows left herds (n) 5984 8646 4286 18916
Replacement rates (%) 20.6 19.7 16.9 19.3
%cows left due to
Death 1.9 2.2 2.1 2.1
Sale 4.7 4.8 4.0 4.6
Culling 13.9 12.7 10.8 12.6

Main reasons for culling
Total number of cows 4047 5587 2742 12376
Abortion 1.5 1.4 1.9 1.6
Facial eczema 2.0 1.3 2.1 1.7
Late conception 2.2 1.9 2.0 2.0
Low production 16.0 16.4 14.7 15.9
Mastitis 4.1 3.6 3.9 3.8
Empty 45.3 45.4 43.0 44.8
Old age 5.1 5.4 7.1 5.7
High somatic cell count 4.3 3.2 3.9 3.7
Slow milking 1.5 1.7 1.1 1.5
Temperament 1.1 1.5 2.3 1.5
Udder type and problem 2.2 2.7 4.3 2.9
Unspecified causes 9.8 9.7 6.0 9.0

A few herds were excluded because they were closed at the end of the breeding season.

Expressed as percentage of total cows culled. Only reasons exceeding 1% are listed.

Page: 47 of 51
15.9% of the cows were culled for low production. The third major reason for culling was
related to the udder (mastitis, high somatic cell count, udder type and problems), which
together accounted for 10.4% of culled cows. In addition, 5.7% of the cows were culled for
old age. Together, these 4 main reasons account for 78.8% of all culled cows. Unfortunately,
no culling reasons were given for 9% of the cows.

Regional differences in replacement 30
1998 1999 2000 Overall
rate are shown in Figure 35. Overall,
Northland had the lowest replacement

Replacement rate (%)
25

rate of 17.8%, although it had a
replacement rate of 27% in 1998. 20

Taranaki and Wellington had the
15
highest replacement rates of just over
20%, with Waikato, Bay of Plenty and
10
South Island at about 19%. Northland Waikato Bay Plenty Taranaki Wellington S. Island
Region

The overall replacement rate was Figure 35. Regional differences in replacement
similar for Holstein-Friesian (19.9%) rate
and Jersey (20.0%) cows, but lower for
crossbred cows (17.9%). Four-year-old
50
cows had the lowest replacement rate 1998 1999 2000 Overall
45
of 14.7% (Figure 36). Replacement
Replacement rate (%)

40
rates were relatively low (≤16%) for 35
cows aged 2 to 5 years. Thereafter, 30
replacement rate increased sharply 25

with age to reach over 45% for cows 20

aged10 years and over. The trend was 15

consistent over the 3 seasons. 10
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10+
Age
Time of calving had a significant effect Figure 36. Age effect on replacement rate
on replacement rate (Figure 37). The
lowest replacement rate (16.2%) was
40
observed in cows that calved in the
first week after the planned start of 35
Replacement rate (%)

calving (week 11), but the replacement 30

rates were relatively low (<17.5%) for 25
cows calved between 9 and 13 weeks
20
before the start of the breeding season.
15
For cows calved 8 weeks or less,
replacement rate increased with 10
<1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14+
reducing interval from calving to the Interval (week) from calving to start of breeding season
start of the breeding season. Figure 37. Effects of time of calving on
Interestingly, cows that calved more replacement rate
than 2 weeks (week 14) before the
planned start of calving had a high
replacement rate (26.6%). The trend was similar across all three seasons with the replacement
rate being the lowest for the 2000 season at each time point.

Cows that experienced calving difficulty had high replacement rate (27.0%) than cows that
calved normally (19.0%). The trend was similar across all three seasons.

Page: 48 of 51
Induction affected replacement rate
(Figure 38). The overall replacement rate 35
Non-induced Induced

over the 3 seasons was higher for induced 30

Replacement rate (%)
cows (22.4%) than non-induced cows 25

(19.0%). However, the effect of induction 20

on replacement rate varied with the time 15

of calving. Replacement rate was higher 10

for induced than for non-induced cows 5

for cows calved ≥10 weeks before start of 0
<=3 4-6 7-9 >=10 Overall
breeding, whereas it was lower for Interval (week) from calving to start of breeding season
induced cows than for non-induced cows
Figure 38. Effects of induction and time of
for cows calved ≤3 weeks.
calving on culling rate
Pregnancy rate to AI
For most dairy herds in New Zealand, AI is used solely to generate heifer replacements. After
enough cows have conceived for this requirement, natural mating is used to breed the
reminding cows in the herd. Table 16 shows the percentage of cows conceiving to AI. About
65% of cows conceived during the AI breeding period. There was a large variation between
herds in AI pregnancy rate, with a difference of 25 percentage units between herds in the top
and bottom quartiles. The average length of the AI breeding period was 40 days (range: 18 to
94 days; standard deviation = 10.6 days). In the present study, 6% of cows that conceived to
AI did not calve in the following season. So the percentage of cows that give birth to AI
calves was 58.7% with a standard deviation of 9.5%. If we assume that the average female
calf ratio is 48% and the survival rate from birth to first lactation is 80%, there would be
22.5% of heifers reaching first lactation. This was about 3 percentage units (or 10%) higher
than the replacement rate observed in the present study (19.3%).

Table 16. Percentage of cows pregnant to AI.
Season 1998 1999 2000 Total
Number of cows 28317 41892 26089 96307
Pregnancy rate to AI 64.1 64.6 65.7 64.7
Bottom 25% of herds 51.4 51.0 53.6 51.8
Top 25% of herds 76.9 76.1 77.0 76.7

Interval to conception
The interval from calving to conception or from start of the breeding season to conception
can also be used to measure reproductive performance (Table 17). It is important to realise
that the distribution of the interval from start of breeding season to conception is strongly
skewed to the left and the average interval can be distorted by a few large values.

Table 17. Statistics for interval from calving or start of breeding season to conception.
Season Start of breeding to conception Calving to conception
Mean Top 25% Bottom 25% Mean Top 25% Bottom 25%
1998 28.0 21.5 36.2 91.6 85.7 99.3
1999 27.3 21.1 34.1 88.7 82.9 95.2
2000 27.6 21.0 35.3 89.2 83.8 95.0
Total 27.6 21.2 35.1 89.7 83.9 96.7

Page: 49 of 51
Calving statistics
Weekly and cumulative calving patterns for cows over the 3 seasons are shown in Figure 39
and 40. Just over 56% of cows had calved by the third week after the planned start of
calving. By the 6th week, 84% had calved and 96.5% had calved by the 9th week. Overall,
6.6% of the cows had been induced to calve. Although cows were induced throughout the
calving period, more cows were induced to calve in the 6th and 7th week.

20
18 Induced

16 Non-induced
Cows calved (%)

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
-3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Time (week) relative to the planned start of calving

Figure 39. Weekly calving pattern for induced and non-induced cows.

100
Induced
90
Non-induced
80
Cows calved (%)

70
60
50
93.4
40
30
20
10
0
-3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
Time (week) relative to the planned start of calving

Figure 40. Cumulative calving pattern for induced and non-induced cows.

Page: 50 of 51
Conception pattern
The raw conception patterns are shown for Friesian and Jersey cows (Figure 41) and for
induced and non-induced cows (Figure 42). Again, the difference between induced and non-
induced cows was mainly due to differences in the time of calving.

100

90

80
Cows conceived (%)

70

60
Friesian
50 Jersey

40

30

20

10

0
0 25 50 75 100 125 150
Time after start of breeding season (day)

Figure 41. Conception patterns for Friesian and Jersey cows. Conception pattern for
crossbred cows was very similar to Jersey cows.

100

90

80
Cows conceived (%)

70
Induced
60 Non-induced

50

40

30

20

10

0
0 25 50 75 100 125 150
Time after start of breeding season (day)

Figure 42. Effect of induction on conception pattern.

Page: 51 of 51