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Understanding the factors affecting dairy cow fertility
  1. Chris Hudson, BVSc, DCHP, MRCVS
  1. School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire LE12 5RD
  1. e-mail: chris.hudson{at}

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IT is well recognised that fertility is one of the key drivers of profitability at herd level in dairy enterprises (Esslemont and Kossaibati 2002, Esslemont 2003, LeBlanc 2007). In turn, this is critical to the sustainability of the industry, both for individual farmers and for the national herd as a whole. There is evidence that reproductive performance in UK dairy herds has been in decline for some time (Esslemont and Kossaibati 2002, Hudson and others 2010), and that the lost profit due to poor reproductive performance compared to an achievable target may be as much as £100 per cow per year in the typical UK herd (Hudson and others 2010). This places an increased emphasis on the need to understand factors that affect fertility, encompassing both herd level management factors (such as oestrus detection and nutrition) and individual cow factors (such as clinical or subclinical disease events and genetics). Although, in many cases, herd-level factors will be more important in determining the overall level of reproductive performance in the herd, a better understanding of the way different cow-level disease events may interact to affect reproductive …

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