The objective of the present study was to assess the association of prepartum lying time (LT) and the coefficient of variation (CV) of LT within 7 d before calving with prepartum serum nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentration at 7 ± 3 d prepartum (dpp) and stillbirth. Prepartum pregnant Holstein heifers and cows from 3 dairy herds were used (n = 1,044). Animals were housed in freestall barns using a prepartum pen 21 d before the expected calving date and were moved into a contiguous maternity pen at parturition. Monthly, cohorts of 20 to 36 animals (heifers and cows combined) were enrolled at each farm and electronic data loggers (IceQube, IceRobotics, Edinburgh, UK) were fitted to the hind leg of individual animals to assess their behavioral activity. Stillbirth was defined as a calf born dead or died during the first 24 h after parturition in dams with normal gestation length. The LT was recorded for the last 7 dpp to assess differences among dams with stillbirth versus those with a calf born alive. Mean LT within 7 d before blood NEFA collection was assessed to determine the association with prepartum serum NEFA at 7 ± 3 dpp. Blood samples for the assessment of serum NEFA concentration were collected from prepartum animals at 14 ± 3 and at 7 ± 3 dpp. Blood samples for total serum calcium concentration were collected from postpartum cows within 48 h after parturition to assess differences among cows with stillbirth versus those with a calf born alive. Data were analyzed using CORR, MIXED, or GLIMMIX procedures of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Dams experiencing dystocic births had a greater proportion of stillbirth, but herd, parity, and season did not have an effect. Dams with a stillborn calf had reduced LT and increased CV of LT within the last 7 dpp compared with dams with a calf born alive, regardless of parity. Multiparous cows with a stillborn calf had higher prepartum serum NEFA concentration compared with multiparous cows with a calf born alive, but this did not differ for first-calf heifers. Regardless of parity, the proportion of postpartum cows with hypocalcemia was higher for dams with a stillborn calf compared with those with a calf born alive. Regardless of parity, LT of prepartum dams was strongly correlated with the CV of LT (as LT increased, the CV decreased), and prepartum dams with a mean LT between 11 and 15 h/d had the lowest serum NEFA concentration compared with dams with LT of 8 to 10 or >16 h/d. Serum NEFA concentrations at 7 ± 3 dpp was positively correlated with the CV of LT within 7 d before blood sample. These results show that the dam's prepartum LT and its consistency over time are associated with prepartum serum NEFA and calf survival at calving.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology