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Animals 2013, 3(3), 866-881; doi:10.3390/ani3030866

Pre-Calving and Calving Management Practices in Dairy Herds with a History of High or Low Bovine Perinatal Mortality

Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Teagasc, Moorepark Research Centre, Fermoy, Co Cork, Ireland
Statistics and Applied Physics Department, Teagasc, Ashtown, Dublin 15, Ireland
Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Model Farm Road, Cork, Ireland
Section of Herd Health & Animal Husbandry, School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 July 2013 / Revised: 2 August 2013 / Accepted: 22 August 2013 / Published: 27 August 2013
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Bovine perinatal mortality is an increasing problem in dairy industries internationally. The objective of this study was to determine the risk factors associated with high and low herd-level calf mortality. Thirty herds with a history of either high (case) or low (control) calf mortality were recruited. A herd-level questionnaire was used to gather information on management practices likely to impact bovine perinatal mortality. The questionnaire was divided into four subsections dealing with pre-calving (breeding, diet and body condition score, endemic infectious diseases) and calving factors. Most of the significant differences between case and control herds were found in calving management. For example, in case herds, pregnant cattle were less likely to be moved to the calving unit two or more days and more likely to be moved less than 12 hours pre-calving, they were also less likely to calve in group-calving facilities and their calves were more likely to receive intranasal or hypothermal resuscitation. These management procedures may cause social isolation and periparturient psychogenic uterine atony leading to dystocia, more weak calves requiring resuscitation and high perinatal calf mortality. The key finding is that calving, not pre-calving, management appears to be the most important area of concern in herds with high perinatal mortality.
Keywords: bovine perinatal mortality; stillbirth; calving management; questionnaire; dairy bovine perinatal mortality; stillbirth; calving management; questionnaire; dairy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Mee, J.F.; Grant, J.; Sánchez-Miguel, C.; Doherty, M. Pre-Calving and Calving Management Practices in Dairy Herds with a History of High or Low Bovine Perinatal Mortality. Animals 2013, 3, 866-881.

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