Intensive genetic selection for high milk yield is often considered a major component of decreasing fertility of dairy cows. But is that the whole story?

Current research at Michigan State University indicates that there is probably more to the relationship between milk production and reproductive performance than just genetics. In fact, non-genetic factors such as management practices and herd-related factors are likely to be substantially involved. This means that it might be possible for herd managers to have a direct impact on getting high producing cows pregnant.

According to data presented at the American Dairy Science Association’s annual meeting this summer:

  • Some herds apparently managed to have no relationship between milk yield from reproductive performance.
  • Some had even reversed the trend and showed a strongly negative (or favorable) correlation.

Clearly, the relationship between milk yield and reproduction is not a one-size-fits-all relationship.

The challenge is that the magnitude of the effect of each individual management practice on the correlation seems to be very small. This indicates that relationship between milk production and reproduction is complex and multifactorial.

In other words, no single management strategy is a silver bullet for successful pregnancies in high-producing cows, say the researchers.

Source: Michigan Dairy Review