Descriptive study for culling and mortality in five high-producing Spanish dairy cattle farms (2006–2016)
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Background: High turnover rate in dairy farms due to culling and mortality is associated with poor animal welfare, an increase in production costs and lower economic benefits for the dairy farm. Understanding cow elimination better would help to formulate specific prevention measures and improve the efficiency of milk production in dairy farms. Culling and mortality data from five standard high-producing dairy farms in Spain were analysed over a period of 11 years (2006–2016). Data were collected by the same veterinary team and using the same software system. Results: Significant between-herd differences in eliminated cows were observed for type of elimination (slaughter or death on the farm), age at elimination, cause of elimination, number of lactations and production parameters, such as total days in milk, life milk yield, litres per day of productive life and litres per day of life. Culling and mortality were higher during the hot season and for cows of second and third parities. Between-herd differences were observed. Reproductive disorders (30.2%) were the most frequent reason for elimination, with low production (23.4%) being the second most frequent reason. Accidents on the farm (7.7%) were a more frequent cause of elimination than metabolic diseases (7.2%), locomotor disorders (2.4%) and obstetrics (2.4%). Conclusions: Veterinary teams or farmers’ associations can use culling and mortality information for benchmarking cow farms if data collection and analysis is standardised for comparability. The analysis of culling and mortality information should help farmers to improve efficiency.
Is part ofActa Veterinaria Scandinavica, 2018, vol 60, núm. 45, p. 1-11
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