Background The association between age at fist calving (AFC) and production, fertility and survivability in Jersey heifers requires evaluation and comparison with published literature on Holstein heifers.
Method Lactation records from 7256 pedigree Jersey heifers were grouped by AFC. Analysis comprised mixed effects multivariable regression modelling and binary logistic regression modelling.
Results Increased lifetime daily yield (LDY) was significantly associated with a reduced AFC; calving UK Jersey heifers at 24 months or below is optimal. Heifers calving at 25–26 months had a significantly lower mean calving interval (391 days; 95 per cent CI 386 to 397) than those calving over 30 months (399; 95 per cent CI 394 to 405) (P=0.03). Heifers with an AFC over 30 months were less likely to survive to second lactation than those with an AFC 18–24 months. Spring calving heifers produced significantly less milk per day (9.87 kg; 95 per cent CI 9.64 to 10.1) than autumn (10.18; 95 per cent CI 9.94 to 10.41) or winter calvers (10.07; 95 per cent CI 9.84 to 10.3) (P≤0.01). Heifers that calved in the winter had a significantly shorter calving interval (389 days; 95 per cent CI 394 to 383) (P≤0.01) than heifers calved in other seasons.
Conclusion The impact of AFC on Jersey production, fertility and longevity traits shows a similar trend to that seen in the Holstein, potentially on a lesser scale.
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Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. Lactation data obtained from UK milk recording organisations.
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