The prevalence, temporal and spatial trends in bulk tank equivalent milk fat depression in Irish milk recorded herds
Irish Veterinary Journal, May 2017
Catherine I. Carty, Alan G. Fahey, Morgan R. Sheehy, Steve Taylor, Ian J. Lean, Conor G. McAloon, Luke O’Grady, Finbar J. Mulligan, Carty, Catherine I., Fahey, Alan G., Sheehy, Morgan R., Taylor, Steve, Lean, Ian J., McAloon, Conor G., O'Grady, Luke, Mulligan, Finbar J.
Milk fat is important in terms of economic value and in its potential to provide information concerning cow diet and health. Under current milk payment schemes in Ireland farmer income is directly linked to milk fat production. A descriptive analysis of milk fat depression (MFD) as calculated from test day milk recording data across all milk recording herds from 2004 to 2014 was undertaken. A dataset of 17 million test day records was used to calculate the prevalence of MFD in Irish milk recorded herds and to create a graphical description of the major descriptive epidemiological trends in milk fat depression in time and space in Ireland. The bulk tank equivalent (BTE) for test day milk fat was calculated for each herd and for cohorts of cows within herds using the formula; BTE milk fat = sum test day fat kg/sum test day milk kg. Milk fat depression was defined as BTE <3.3% milk fat and BTE > 3.2% milk protein. The annual prevalence of MFD decreased significantly over time in a linear manner until 2014. Across all years the highest prevalence of MFD occurred in April or May. The highest prevalence occurred most commonly in May, with 9.1% of herds experiencing MFD in 2014. The highest prevalence of MFD in autumn calved cohorts occurred at 181-210 days in milk whereas it occurred at days 61-90 in milk in spring calving cohorts. The stage of lactation for the most common occurrence of MFD in both the spring and autumn cohorts corresponded with the month of May. There were some notable spatial patterns regarding variations in prevalence of MFD across the country. Cohorts of cows with the highest genetic values for milk yield had the highest prevalence of MFD whereas cohorts of cows with the highest breeding values for milk fat percent had the lowest prevalence of MFD. A subpopulation of Irish herds experienced the condition of MFD. Descriptive analysis suggested spatial, temporal and animal level associations. This condition warrants further investigation.
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