Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Original Article

Association between gestation length and lactation performance, lactation curve, calf birth weight and dystocia in Holstein dairy cows in Iran

Hadi Atashi; Anise Asaadi

Downloads: 0
Views: 3


Abstract: In this study, 252,798 lactations on 108,077 cows in 433 herds were used to determine the association between gestation length (GL) and lactation performance, lactation curve, calf birth weight and dystocia in Holstein dairy cows in Iran. The GL averaged 278.1 ± 5.41 d, was categorized as short (SGL; at 1 SD below the population mean), average (AGL; the population mean ± 1 SD), or long (LGL; at least 1 SD above the population mean). Factors including parity, calf gender and calving season were associated with the GL. Primiparous cows with SGL had less lactation performance than those with longer GL; however, there was no difference between those with AGL and LGL. Multiparous cows with longer GL always had more partial and 305-d lactation performance. Primiparous cows with SGL produced less milk at the beginning of lactation and at the peak than those with AGL or LGL; inverse trends were found for lactation persistency, upward and downward slopes of the lactation curve. Within multiparous, a direct relationship was found between GL and the peak yield, where cows with longer GL always produced more milk at the peak. Multiparous cows with SGL produced less milk at the beginning of lactation, reached their peaks later, had higher lactation persistency and showed a lower upward slope of lactation curve than those with AGL or LGL. There was a direct relationship between GL and calf birth weight, where cows with longer GL had calves with more weight at the birth. Within primiparous, cows with SGL had the lowest and those with LGL had the highest rate of dystocia. However, multiparous cows with AGL had a lower rate of dystocia than those with SGL or LGL. Although there was a direct relationship between GL and lactation performance, intermediate GL seems optimal when considering dystocia.


dairy cattle, genetic selection, gestation length, calving ease, dry period


Atashi H, Zamiri M, Dadpasand M. Association between dry period length and lactation performance, lactation curve, calf birth weight, and dystocia in Holstein dairy cows in Iran. J Dairy Sci. 2013;96(6):3632-8. PMid:23587376.

Atashi H, Zamiri MJ, Sayyadnejad MB. Effect of twinning and stillbirth on the shape of lactation curve in Holstein dairy cows of Iran. Arch Tierzucht. 2012;55(3):226-33.

Chud TC, Caetano SL, Buzanskas ME, Grossi DA, Guidolin DG, Nascimento GB, Rosa JO, Lôbo RB, Munari DP. Genetic analysis for gestation length, birth weight, weaning weight, and accumulated productivity in Nellore beef cattle. Livest Sci. 2014;170:16-21.

Davis SR. Triennial lactation symposium/BOLFA: mammary growth during pregnancy and lactation and its relationship with milk yield. J Anim Sci. 2017;95(12):5675-88. PMid:29293774.

Haile-Mariam M, Pryce J. Genetic evaluation of gestation length and its use in managing calving patterns. J Dairy Sci. 2019;102(1):476-87. PMid:30343913.

Hansen JV, Friggens N, Højsgaard S. The influence of breed and parity on milk yield, and milk yield acceleration curves. Livest Sci. 2006;104(1-2):53-62.

Hansen M, Lund MS, Pedersen J, Christensen L. Gestation length in Danish Holsteins has weak genetic associations with stillbirth, calving difficulty, and calf size. Livest Prod Sci. 2004;91(1-2):23-33.

ICAR. Rules and regulations [Internet]. Rome: International Committee for Animal Recording; 2011 [cited 2013 Mar 8]. Section 2.1, Standards and guidelines for recording milk and milk constituents; p. 23-56. Available from:

Jamrozik J, Fatehi J, Kistemaker G, Schaeffer L. Estimates of genetic parameters for Canadian Holstein female reproduction traits. J Dairy Sci. 2005;88(6):2199-208. PMid:15905449.

Jamrozik J, Miller S. Genetic evaluation of calving ease in Canadian Simmentals using birth weight and gestation length as correlated traits. Livest Sci. 2014;162:42-9.

Jenkins GM, Amer P, Stachowicz K, Meier S. Phenotypic associations between gestation length and production, fertility, survival, and calf traits. J Dairy Sci. 2016;99(1):418-26. PMid:26585484.

Johanson JM, Berger P. Birth weight as a predictor of calving ease and perinatal mortality in holstein cattle. J Dairy Sci. 2003;86(11):3745-55. PMid:14672206.

Lacerda VV, Campos G, Roso V, Souza F, Brauner C, Boligon A. Effect of mature size and body condition of Nelore females on the reproductive performance. Theriogenology. 2018;118:27-33. PMid:29883841.

Meijering A. Dystocia and stillbirth in cattle: a review of causes, relations and implications. Livest Prod Sci. 1984;11(2):143-77.

Meyer CL, Berger P, Koehler K, Thompson J, Sattler C. Phenotypic trends in incidence of stillbirth for holsteins in the United States1. J Dairy Sci. 2001;84(2):515-23. PMid:11233037.

Nadarajah K, Burnside E, Schaeffer L. Factors affecting gestation length in Ontario Holsteins. Can J Anim Sci. 1989;69(4):1083-6.

Noakes D, Parkinson T, England G. Dystocia and other disorders associated with parturition. Noakes DE, Parkinson TJ, England GCW. Veterinary Reproduction and Obstetrics. 2009;9:207-305.

Nogalski Z, Piwczyński D. Association of length of pregnancy with other reproductive traits in dairy cattle. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci. 2012;25(1):22-7. PMid:25049473.

Norman HD, Wright J, Kuhn M, Hubbard S, Cole J, VanRaden P. Genetic and environmental factors that affect gestation length in dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci. 2009;92(5):2259-69. PMid:19389985.

Norman HD, Wright J, Miller R. Potential consequences of selection to change gestation length on performance of Holstein cows. J Dairy Sci. 2011;94(2):1005-10. PMid:21257069.

Philipsson J. Studies on calving difficulty, stillbirth and associated factors in Swedish cattle breeds: III. Genetic parameters. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. 1976;26(3):211-20.

Sargent F, Lytton V, Wall O Jr. Test interval method of calculating dairy herd improvement association records. J Dairy Sci. 1968;51(1):170-9.

SAS Institute. 1999. SAS/STAT user’s guide. 8 ed. Cary: SAS Institute Inc.

Silva HM, Wilcox C, Thatcher W, Becker R, Morse D. Factors affecting days open, gestation length, and calving interval in Florida dairy cattle. J Dairy Sci. 1992;75(1):288-93. PMid:1541737.

Silveira D, Souza F, Brauner C, Ayres D, Silveira F, Dionello N, Boligon A. Body condition score of Nelore cows and its relation with mature size and gestation length. Livest Sci. 2015;175:10-7.

Tomasek R, Rezac P, Havlicek Z. Environmental and animal factors associated with gestation length in Holstein cows and heifers in two herds in the Czech Republic. Theriogenology. 2017;87:100-7. PMid:27616214.

Vieira-Neto A, Galvão K, Thatcher W, Santos J. Association among gestation length and health, production, and reproduction in Holstein cows and implications for their offspring. J Dairy Sci. 2017;100(4):3166-81. PMid:28161176.

Wood P. Algebraic model of the lactation curve in cattle. Nature. 1967;216(5111):164-5.

5de506d40e8825c32e9f5038 animreprod Articles
Links & Downloads

Anim Reprod

Share this page
Page Sections