Effect of blood ionised calcium concentration at calving on fertility outcomes in dairy cattle

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Abstract

Clinical and subclinical hypocalcaemia are common in dairy cows, yet evidence in the literature assessing their impact on fertility is inconsistent. The aim of this prospective cohort study was to examine associations between blood ionised calcium concentration at calving and fertility outcomes in dairy cattle. Blood samples were taken from 137 Holstein cows from four commercial dairy herds within 24 hours of calving and analysed for blood ionised calcium using an Epocal Point of Care Analyser (Epocal, Ottawa, Canada). Data collected from routine veterinary fertility examinations and herd records were used to investigate the association of ionised calcium with the outcomes: time to first service, time to conception and endometritis. There were significant negative associations between blood ionised calcium concentration and time to first service (HR 1.33, P=0.001) and blood ionised calcium concentration and time to conception (HR 1.16, P=0.04). There was no significant association between blood ionised calcium concentration and endometritis. The results of this study imply that management policies that minimise the reduction in blood ionised calcium concentration in the periparturient dairy cow are likely to improve reproductive outcomes and should be considered as part of the multifactorial approach to optimising dairy cow fertility.

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