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

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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


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