The use of genetic selection to improve herd reproductive performance of dairy cattle in Northern Victoria, Australia: preliminary results

Ee Cheng Ooi

Abstract


With any new management tool, managers of dairy herds can be slow to adopt changes until they are aware that the practice exists, have the skills to implement it, and are confident that it has beneficial effects on herd profitability. Accordingly, there is a need to validate the use of the Daughter Fertility Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) in order to better demonstrate its value. There is also a need to describe farmer usage and attitudes towards the Daughter Fertility ABV in order to identify barriers and improve uptake of the technology.

With this in mind, a validation study was undertaken in two parts. The first part comprised a retrospective cohort study, using reproductive event information and pregnancy testing data collected from 35 dairy herds that were clients of the Rochester Veterinary Practice. Survival analyses (with the eventual plan to perform a multiple linear regression) was undertaken to quantify the association between Daughter Fertility ABV and phenotypic expressions of cow fertility. These included Australian industry standards such as the 6-week in-calf rate, 3-week submission rate and conception rate.

 

The second part of this study documented herd manager attitudes and intentions towards genetic selection for daughter fertility, using the Theory of Planned Behavior as a social research framework. A total of 33 herd managers were interviewed about their salient beliefs, social norms and perceived barriers regarding the selection of high daughter fertility ABV sires. These results were then used to test the strength and prevalence of these beliefs amongst the wider population of Rochester Veterinary Practice clients (n = 168) using a postal survey. Regression will be used to identify key beliefs and herd manager characteristics that contribute to selection and intention to select high daughter fertility ABV sires.

This paper provides preliminary results of the data collected for this study, as presented at the Interbull Meeting in 2018.


Keywords


fertility; dairy cows; genetic selection; breeding value; reproductive performance

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