Effects Of Environmental Factors On Milk Yield Biology Essay

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Dairy cattle production in Tunisia has been growing into an important agricultural sector, but it still faces numerous difficulties in environmental constraints. The present research was carried out to determine milk yield traits and effects of environmental factors on these traits in Holstein cows raised under Tunisian climatic conditions. A total of 260.241 test-day records from Tunisian milk control data of five lactations of 5649 Tunisian Holstein cows having their first calving between 1996 and 2003 were used. The data analyses using least square techniques of Proc GLM of SAS identified significant sources of variation by parity, calving season, calving year and age at calving. Effects of parity on 305 days milk yield, lactation duration and dry period were significant (P<0.001- P<0.05). Effect of calving year on 305 days milk yield was significant statistically at the P<0.001 level. Effect of age at calving on 305 days milk yield and dry period were significant (P<0.001). The least square means of 305 days milk yield, lactation length and dry period were 5807.83±78.27 kg, 309.60±7.01 days and 97.17±3.28 days, respectively. The results overall were very similar to those obtained from research with breeds in temperate areas.

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Holstein cows were considered the most dairy cows in World. As number of Holstein cows in Tunisia is more than other breeds, breeding of Holstein cows is very important. Milk yield and duration of lactation have marked effects on dairy economy (Kandasamy et al., 1993; Tekerli et al., 2001). Milk yield is the most important single determinant of profit for the dairy cow. Effects of lactation number, age, and season and year of calving on milk yield and lactation length are well known. In breeding of dairy cows, the most important aims are to obtain a calf in a year and high milk yield from cows. To obtain a calf in a year from cows dependents on some parameters in ideal limits (60 days dry period, 305 days lactation duration etc.). However, profitable breeding could be achieved by keeping lactation duration, dry period and service period between optimal limits (Çilek and Takin, 2005; Koçak et al., 2007). The yields of farm animals are the result of the combined effects of genotype and environmental conditions. In order to increase the yield level, it is necessary to optimize the environmental conditions and to improve the genetic structure of the animals. In order to enhance productivity of a dairy animal, it is necessary to develop an understanding of the factors affecting its milk production. Environmental factors can be classified as factors with measurable effects (age, year, season, milking frequency, etc.) and factors with unmeasurable effects (infectious diseases, parasitic infestations, etc.). The measurable effects can be determined and used in the management of the farm (Yaylak and Kumlu, 2005; Çilek and Tekin, 2007b). Environmental factors affecting variability in daily milk yield are widely documented in dairy cattle (Schutz et al., 1990; DÄ›dková and NÄ›mcová, 2003; Rekik et al., 2003). The 305 days milk yield of Holstein cows was 5905 kg in Tunisia (Ajili et al., 2007), 5353 kg in Morocco (Boujenane, 2002), and between 4597 and 6464 kg in Turkey (Bilgiç and Aliç, 2005; Erdem et al., 2007; Inci et al., 2007). Environmental factors such as year of calving, season of calving and age at calving affect productivity (Hansen et al., 2006). Many researchers (Yaylak and Kumlu, 2005; Erdem et al., 2007; Koçak et al., 2007) reported that the effect of calving season on 305 days milk yield was as significant and indicated that milk yield was higher in autumn and winter. However, Pelister et al. (2000b) and Bilgiç and Aliç (2005) reported that effect of calving season on 305 days milk yield was non-significant. Although, effect of lactation number on 305 days milk yield was reported (-zçelik and Arpacik, 2000; Erdem et al., 2007; Inci et al., 20007) as significant. Bilgiç and Aliç (2005) and Koçak et al. (2007) reported a non-significant effect of lactation number on 305 days milk yield. Effects of calving age on 305 days milk yield have been reported as significant (Pelister et al., 2000a; Çilek, 2002). The lactation duration of Holstein cows was between 284.7 and 333.9 days in previous studies (Kaya et al., 2003; Duru and Tuncel, 2004; Bilgiç and Aliç 2005; Erdem et al., 2007). The effect of calving season on lactation duration was reported as non-significant (Pelister et al., 2000a; Bilgiç and Aliç, 2005; Koçak et al., 2007). The effect of lactation number on lactation duration was reported as non-significant (-zçelik and Arpacik, 2000; Bilgiç and Aliç, 2005; Erdem et al., 2007). However, the effect of calving age on lactation duration was reported as significant (Pelister et al., 2000a; Inci et al., 2007). Zambrano et al. (2006) reported that the effect of calving year on lactation duration was significant. The dry period of Holstein cows was between 73.34 and 82.1 days (Kaya et al., 2003; Erdem et al., 2007; Inci et al., 2007). Pelister et al., 2000a; Koçak et al., 2007) reported a non-significant effect of calving season on dry period. However, Erdem et al. (2007) reported a significant effect of age at calving on lactation duration. The effect of lactation number on dry period was reported as non-significant (Erdem et al., 2007; Inci et al., 2007). However, the effect of calving age on lactation duration was reported as significant (-zçelik and Arpacik, 2000). Effects of age at calving on dry period have been reported as significant (Pelister et al., 2000a). Many researchers (Bilgiç and Aliç, 2005; Zambarano et al., 2006; Erdem et al., 2007) were found that effect of calving year on all milk yield traits (305 days milk yield, lactation duration, dry period) was significant. Inci et al. (2007) reported that effects of calving year on 305 days milk yield and lactation duration were significant but non-significant on dry period. The present research work was designed to investigate non-genetics factors affecting milk yield, lactation length and dry period of Holstein cows raised under Tunisian conditions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

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The data used in the present study were taken from the Tunisian Livestock and Pasture Office (OEP). A total of 260.241 test-day records of 5649 Holstein cows from Tunisian milk control data. Data from lactations records of cows having their first calving between 1996 and 2003 were used. To evaluate the significant effects of calving year, season of calving, lactation number, and age at calving on different milk yield traits, eight groups for calving year were formed, between 1996 and 2003, three age groups of calving age (1) 2-4, (2) 5-6, and (3) 7 or older, four calving seasons were established; winter (December, January and February), spring (March, April and May), summer (June, July, August), and autumn (September, October and November) and five groups for parity. The 305 days milk yield was estimated from test milk yields collected once a month during all lactation periods (Çilek and Tekin, 2006a, b). Lactations with less than 5 tests were not used in calculation. Milk yields were standardized to 305 days by using adjustment factors estimated by Çilek (2008). Environmental factors, which influenced lactation milk yield, lactation duration and dry period were investigated. The General Linear Model (GLM) was used for variance analyses of milk yield traits. Duncan's multiple range tests was used for multiple comparisons.

The statistical model was:

Yijkl = µ+ Li+Sj+CYk+ACl+eijklm

Where:

µ = Population mean,

Li = Effects of lactation number (i = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5),

Sj = Seasonal effects (j = spring, summer, autumn and winter),

CYk= Effect of calving year (k = years between 1996 and 2003),

ACl = Effect of group of age at calving (l= 1, 2 and 3),

eijklm = Error

RESULTS

The overall average 305-days milk yield was 5807.83±78.27 kg, average lactation length and dry period were estimated to be as 309.60±7.01 and 97.17±3.28 days, respectively. Average age at first calving was 1092.3 ± 196.8 days (range, 646-1588 days). The effect of year and season of calving and parity was significant (P<0.01) on the trait. Least square means for milk yield traits are presented in Table 1. Effects of all factors (calving year, calving age, parity and calving season) on 305-days milk yield were significant (P<0.001).

Effect of calving year

Year of calving significantly influenced MY (P<0.001). The variation in milk yield from one year to other (table 2) could be attributed to changes in herd size, age of the animals and good management practices introduced from year to another. The lowest 305 days milk yield (4879±117.89) was seen in 1998 years, the highest milk yield (6251±185.72 kg) was seen in 2003. The effects of calving year on lactation duration were statistically significant (P<0.05). Effects calving year on dry period were statistically significant (P<0.001). The dry period was lowest (96.57±5.57 days) in 2002 and highest (113.29±3.78 days) in 1996. Year wise means indicated that there was an increasing trend in lactation length from 1996 to 2003.

Effect of calving season

The least squares analysis revealed that 305 days milk yield was significantly (P<0.001) affected by season of calving (table 3). The present results suggested that milk yield was sensitive to seasonal variation. The effect of calving season on milk yield was significant and milk yield was high (5827±69.23) in cows calving in winter. However, the effect of calving season on lactation duration was significant (P<0.001), but non-significant (P>0.05) on dry period. Season of calving affected both the lactation length and milk yield. Summer calvers had lactation length of 301.4±4.12 days as compared to winter calvers where average lactation length was 303.7±4.28 days. Milk yield on the other hand had the opposite trend. Summer calvers produced 614 kg less milk (5213 vs. 5827 kg) as compared to winter calvers.

Effect of age at calving

Total 305 days milk yields were lowest in 2-4 years of age at 5312 kg and highest in 7 years of age at 5611 kg. However, the effects of age at calving on lactation length were non-significant (P>0.05). Dry period increased with increase of age at calving. The lowest dry period was found in 2-4 years old age at 83.37 days and highest in 7 years old age at 99.71 days. The dry period was above the ideal value in all years. In order to make animals more profitable, it is essential they be made pregnant as soon as possible during the service period in order to shorten the dry period (table 4).

Effect of parity

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The effects of parity on lactation duration were statistically significant (P<0.001). Lactation duration was shortest in lactation 5 at 297.8±3.04 days and longest in lactation 4 at 317.5±4.17 days. Lactation duration decreased with increase of lactation number. Effects of parity on dry period were statistically significant (P<0.001). Dry period was longest in 5th lactation at 113.28±3.25 days and shortest in 3rd lactation at 87.23±2.17 days (table 5).

DISCUSSION

In this study, means of 305 days milk yield was 5807.83±78.27 kg. The findings of present study were in accordance with those of Boujenane (2002), Kaya et al. (2003), Duru and Tuncel (2004), Bilgiç and Aliç (2005), Ajili et al. (2007), Erdem et al. (2007), Inci et al., (2007). As reported previously (Çilek, 2002; Borman et al., 2003; Çilek and Tekin, 2005), the effect of calving season on milk yield was significant and milk yield was the highest in cows calving in winter. Similar finding have been reported by Tekerli et al. (2000) and Javed et al. (2004) in Holstein Friesian cows. Cows calving in winter have high milk yields, due probably to good feeding levels in the first 3 or 4 months of lactation. On the other hand, cows calving in summer have low milk yields due to their being subject to high environmental temperatures in the first 3 or 4 months of lactation. On the contrary many workers (Rege et al., 1992; Ray et al., 1992 and Bilal, 1996) observed that season of calving had non-significant effect on lactation milk yield in Holstein Friesian cows.

Age at calving affected significantly 305-days milk yield. Similar results have been reported by (Catillo et al., 2002; Kaya et al., 2003). The lowest milk yield was obtained from cows calving at 2 years of age and the highest from those calving at 7 years of age. The negative effect of early calving on milk yield could have been due to different factors, such as higher body weight gain before puberty. Milk yield decreased after 7 years of age. As reported in the literature (Çilek, 2002; Çilek and Tekin, 2005), this confirms that milk yield increases with age up to maturity and decreases thereafter.

The lowest milk yield was obtained in 1998. After 1998, milk yield increased up to 2003. The reasons for this increase could be the use of bulls with high genetic capacity, selection for milk yield and culling in the herd and especially improvement in management and feeding conditions. The variation in milk yield observed in different years reflected the level of management as well as environmental effects. Between 1996 and 2001, short lactation duration and consequently low milk yield may result from the deficiency of attention and feeding conditions.

The average lactation length calculated in this study was 309.6 days. This was very close to the ideal value (305 days). This length of lactation was longer than results reported by Alim (1985) and Sattar et al. (2005) who reported a lactation length of 293 ± 3 and 291.86 ± 6.55 days in Friesian cows in Libya and Pakistan, respectively. The shorter lactation duration is 127.56 days it may be related to incomplete lactations when data were collected. Lactation duration decreased with increase of lactation number. Short lactation duration in the oldest cows (5th lactation number) may be related to incomplete lactations because of culling.

The average dry period was 97.7±2.25 days. Dry period was higher than the ideal value (80 days) but shorter than funding of Sattar et al. (2005) who reported a longer (224.99 days) dry period. However, the dry period increased with calving age, as a result of increase of milk yield level with age in the herd. It can be said that if milk yield increases with calving age, dry period would decrease. Effect of calving year on all milk yield traits was significant. Differences among years may be related to management. It can be said that differences of management among years was the most important factor affecting milk yield traits.

Dairy cows are usually dried-off for two months prior to the next calving. This rest period is necessary to maximize milk production in subsequent lactation. Milk yield is usually reduced when the dry period is less than 40-60 days (25-40% less milk). Dry period longer than 60 days in length does not result in a significant increase in milk production. Long dry periods decrease the average annual production of the cow by extending the calving interval beyond the normal 13-14 month interval and causing a decrease in the lifetime production of the dairy cow.

CONCLUSION

In this study, there was increase of milk yield level according to previous research (Bilgiç and Aliç, 2005). This may result from improvement in breeding, feeding and management conditions (selection for milk yield and culling in the herd etc.). Although, lactation duration was found almost at ideal value, dry period was estimated as higher than the ideal value. In order to make animals more profitable, it is essential they be made pregnant as soon as possible during the service period in order to shorten the dry period. It can be concluded that Holstein cattle are raised successfully for milk yield under Tunisian environmental conditions. It is concluded that milk yield and lactation length are affected by year and season of calving. Adjusted milk yield (adjusted for lactation length) and lactation length are affected by year into season of calving interaction but actual milk yield is not affected by year by season of calving interaction. Age within parity, also, affected lactation length and milk yield. Negative phenotypic trend in milk yield is alarming and needs further investigations.