The link between body condition, productivity & milk composition

Author: Lāsma Cielava (LLU) - Date: June 20, 2018

From May 9th to 11th, the annual “Biosystems Engineering” conference was held in Tartu (Estonia). This year, the conference included a livestock engineering section covering the newest studies in data collection and management of various farm animals. The research team (Jonkus D., Cielava L., Ruska D.) from Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU) prepared a poster presentation about “The relationships between different genotype dairy cow body condition score, milk urea content and milk productivity”.

The data were collected from dairy cows located in the LLU research and study farm with a voluntary milking system (DeLaval VMS). The gate in to VMS robots is equipped with DeLaval body condition scoring (BCS) cameras that evaluates the BCS for every individual cow each time they go to the milking robot unit. In the study, we determined that cows with highest body condition score (>3.5 points) at the beginning of the lactation had the highest milk yield in first and second lactations, but they also had the highest amount of milk urea, leading to the conclusion that cows with a higher BCS in the beginning of lactation are associated with poor protein conversion and /or higher metabolic disturbance. The analysis of the data, obtained from the BCS cameras and milk composition data, gives important insights into the feeding quality in farms and the health and metabolic condition of each individual cow.

At the end of our study we came to conclusion that the precise evaluation of dairy cow traits can help to understand different aspects of their life. The knowledge of objective BCS results in combination with milk composition indicators can be used to evaluate dairy cow metabolic and reproductive health. It can also be used for the evaluation of the quality of feed ration and welfare conditions in the farm. It is very important to keep feeding and housing conditions on farm optimal for dairy cow needs, because over- or under-feeding not only increase the risk of metabolic diseases, but also significantly reduces cow productivity level and reproductive performance, which can lead to large financial losses.

Click here to download the poster