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The relationship between transition period diseases and lameness, feeding time, and body condition during the dry period

Daros, Ruan R.; Eriksson, Hanna K.; Weary, Daniel M.; von Keyserlingk, Marina A. G.


In this longitudinal study, we tested the hypothesis that cows that are lame around dry-off are at increased risk of transition diseases (TD), including metritis, subclinical ketosis (SCK), retained fetal membranes, hypocalcemia, or displaced abomasum. We also hypothesized that the relationship between lameness and TD would be mediated through reduced feeding time. We enrolled 461 cows at 9 wk before their expected calving date on 6 commercial freestall farms in the lower Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Cows were gait-scored weekly using a scale of 1 to 5. Lameness status was classified based on consecutive gait scores as lame (2 consecutive gait scores = 3 or 1 score ≥4) or sound (2 consecutive gait scores ≤2). Lameness status was summarized as (1) lameness at dry-off (sound or lame); (2) lameness group (always sound = sound on all visits, chronically lame = lame on all visits, and other = changed from sound to lame or vice versa); and (3) proportion of weeks lame during the dry period. Body condition scores were recorded at dry-off and at calving and collectively used to calculate change in body condition for each cow. A subsample of cows (n = 159) was evaluated for feeding time once a week during the dry period. All cows were evaluated for SCK (positive = β-hydroxybutyrate ≥1.2 mmol/L) and metritis (positive = foul smell, red/brown watery vaginal discharge) every 3 to 4 d between d 3 and 17 after calving. We retrieved data on treatment of retained fetal membranes, hypocalcemia, and displaced abomasum during the first 17 d after calving, cow parity, and milk production in the previous lactation from farm records. We created a binary variable, TD (any of SCK, metritis, retained fetal membranes, hypocalcemia, or displaced abomasum), to differentiate between healthy cows and cows that developed TD. Lameness at dry-off was associated with the occurrence of metritis and TD, but not with SCK. Cows that were chronically lame and cows that had an increased proportion of weeks lame during the dry period had higher occurrence of metritis and TD. Lameness was also associated with reduced feeding time, which in turn was associated with increased likelihood of SCK and TD, but not with metritis. Lameness was not associated with change in body condition; however, cows that lost body condition score during the dry period had increased odds of developing SCK, metritis, and TD. Change in body condition was highly associated with body condition score at dry-off. These results suggest that association between lameness and TD is partially mediated through reduced feeding time.


feeding behavior; scan sampling; disease incidence; risk factors

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Journal of Dairy Science
2020, Volym: 103, nummer: 1, sidor: 649-665

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