USDA Agricultural Research Service --Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



J. Dairy Sci. 95 :4074–4084; 10.3168/jds.2011-4998


Frequency of abortions recorded through Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) testing was summarized for cows with lactations completed from 2001 through 2009. For 8.5 million DHI lactations of cows that had recorded breeding dates and were >151 d pregnant at lactation termination, the frequency of recorded abortions was 1.31%. Effects of year, herd-year, month, and pregnancy stage at lactation termination; parity; breed; milk yield; herd size; geographic region; and state within region associated with DHI-recorded abortion were examined. Abortions recorded through DHI (minimum gestation of 152 d required) were more frequent during early gestation; least squares means (LSM) were 4.38, 3.27, 1.19, and 0.59% for 152 to 175, 176 to 200, 201 to 225, and 226 to 250 d pregnant, respectively. Frequency of DHI-recorded abortions was 1.40% for parity 1 and 1.01% for parity ≥8. Abortion frequency was highest from May through August (1.42 to 1.53%) and lowest from October through February (1.09 to 1.21%). Frequency of DHI-recorded abortions was higher for Holsteins (1.32%) than for Jerseys (1.10%) and other breeds (1.27%). Little relationship was found between DHI-recorded abortions and herd size. Abortion frequencies for effects should be considered to be underestimated because many abortions, especially those caused by genetic recessives, go undetected. Therefore, various nonreturn rates (NRR; 60, 80, …, 200 d) were calculated to document pregnancy loss confirmed by the absence of homozygotes in the population. Breeding records for April 2011 US Department of Agriculture sire conception rate evaluations were analyzed with the model used for official evaluations with the addition of an interaction between carrier status of the service sire (embryo’s sire) and cow sire (embryo’s maternal grandsire). Over 13 million matings were examined using various NRR for Holstein lethal recessive traits (brachyspina and complex vertebral malformation) and undesirable recessive haplotypes (HH1, HH2, and HH3) as well as >61,000 matings for a Brown Swiss haplotype (BH1), and 670,000 matings for a Jersey haplotype (JH1). Over 80% of fertility loss occurred by 60 d after breeding for BH1, HH3, and JH1, by 80 d for HH2, by 100 d for BY, and by 180 d for HH1. For complex vertebral malformation, fertility loss increased from 40 to 74% across gestation. Association of undesirable recessives with DHI-recorded abortions ranged from 0.0% for Jerseys to 2.4% for Holsteins.