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Risk factors for calving assistance and dystocia in pasture-based cows in Ireland

J. F. Mee, D. P. Berry, A. R. Cromie

DYSTOCIA in cows can result in an increased risk of calf morbidity and mortality, as well as reduced fertility, milk production and survival. This retrospective study determined the incidence of and risk factors for calving assistance and dystocia in pasture-based cows in Ireland.

Calving data, including information on the dam and sire, were extracted from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation database for the years 2002 to 2005. Predicted transmitting ability (PTA) for direct calving difficulty of the service sire and maternal calving difficulty of the dam's sire was obtained from genetic evaluations from 2006.

A total of 152,641 records from full-term calvings from Holstein-Friesian dams, served by artificial insemination using sires of seven breeds, from 2627 herds with at least 20 calvings per year, were identified for analysis. The overall incidence of calving assistance and dystocia was 31.1 and 6.8 per cent, respectively. The incidence in primiparous and pluriparous cows was 40 and 28.2 per cent respectively for calving assistance, and 9.3 and 5.8 per cent respectively for dystocia. The likelihood of calving assistance or dystocia did not change over time but was greatest …

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