Effects of crossbreed pregnancies on the abortion risk of Neospora caninum-infected dairy cows
Bech Sàbat, Gregori
Santolaria Blasco, Pilar
Yániz Pérez de Albéniz, Jesús
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Previous studies have shown that the use of beef bull semen significantly reduces the rate of abortions due to Neospora caninum in artificially inseminated (AI) seropositive dairy cows. In addition, certain beef breeds could be more resistant to N. caninum infection and abortion than others. The aim of the present study was to determine whether different crossbreed pregnancies, those derived from Limousin, Charolais, Piedmontese or Belgian Blue semen, carry different risks of abortion in Neospora-infected dairy cows. The effects of possible interactions between maternal levels of N. caninum antibodies and the different breed crosses were also evaluated. The study was performed on five commercial Holstein-Friesian dairy herds in Northeast Spain with previously confirmed diagnoses of N. caninum infection in aborted foetuses. The study population was comprised of 1115 pregnancies: 633 pregnancies recorded after AI using Holstein-Friesian semen from 18 bulls and 482 after AI using beef semen from 27 bulls (304 inseminations using semen from Limousin bulls, 191 from Belgian Blue bulls, 89 from Piedmontese bulls and 49 from Charolais bulls). Abortion rates were 32.2% (155/482) and 15.2% (96/633) for seropositive cows inseminated with Holstein-Friesian and beef breed semen, respectively. Logistic regression analysis revealed the herd and the interaction between maternal N. caninum antibody titre and the different crossbreeds as significant factors affecting the abortion rate. Lowest abortion rates, similar to that shown by seronegative animals in the analysed herds (3.2%, 239/7432), were observed in dams AI using Limousin semen that had low (<30 relative index (RI) units) N. caninum antibody titres (2.1% abortion, 3/145) and these cows were used as reference. Compared to the cows used as reference, cows with low N. caninum antibody titres (<30 RI units) showed a similar risk of abortion when inseminated with Piedmontese or Charolais bull semen, but higher risk of abortion when inseminated with Holstein (17.9 times) or Belgian Blue (7.2 times) bull semen. All cows with high N. caninum antibody titres (> or =30 RI units) had a higher risk of abortion, ranging from 8.9 times (cows inseminated with Limousine semen) to 37.8 times (cows inseminated with Piedmontese semen), compared to the cows used as reference. In conclusion, different crossbreed pregnancies carried different abortion risks in Neospora-infected dairy cows. The use of beef bull semen dramatically reduced the risk of abortion in dairy cows, especially if Limousin breed semen was used. Moreover, this reduction was found to be dependent on the N. caninum antibody titre such that the lowest incidence of abortions was recorded in Limousin semen inseminated cows with low antibody titres. Insemination of Neospora-seropositive cows with beef bull semen could both reduce the risk of abortion and avoid breeding replacements for infected cattle.