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Refsdal A.O.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Erhard H.W.,Agro ParisTech | Erhard H.W.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Kommisrud E.,Hedmark University College | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2013

The current study presents a novel objective measure for characterizing sexually active groups (SAG 3-5) and relates this measure to other behaviors of lactating Holstein-Friesian cows. Cows in SAG 3-5 were required to participate in a minimum of 1 estrus behavior per 5. min while staying within 3. m (2 cow lengths) of its partner(s) for a minimum of 5. min. Twenty Holstein-Friesian cows were video-monitored continuously through 1 complete estrous cycle (22. d). Standing behavior, SAG 3-5, secondary estrus signs (SEC), and other social and agonistic behaviors were recorded continuously. The period of mounting estrus (MTE) was divided into the 3 parts: prestand, standing estrus (STE), and poststand. The mean durations of MTE, prestand, STE, and poststand period were 12.9 ± 1.84, 4.0 ± 1.93, 7.1 ± 1.44, and 1.8 ± 0.57. h (n = 13). The fractions of time spent in SAG 3-5 during MTE, prestand, STE, and poststand period were 13, 8, 19, and 1% (n = 11). During MTE, cows participated, on average, in 5.8 ± 1.24 SAG 3-5 and initiated 9.5 ± 2.99 mounts, with mean durations of 0.25 ± 0.03. h and 4.00 ± 0.36. s, respectively. The novel measure SAG 3-5 was a sign of long duration not confined only to groups of STE cows. On one day when no cows were in estrus and during the periods 4 to 24. h before and after MTE, no SAG 3-5 behaviors were observed. Luteal-phase cows participated in SAG 3-5 only when the partner was a single cow in estrus. The time spent in SAG 3-5 increased between 1 and 3. h before MTE and the prestand period (3 vs. 8%) and reached a peak level during STE. From STE to poststand, time spent in SAG 3-5 decreased considerably (19 vs. 1%). The observed decrease in nonmutual agonistic behaviors 4 to 24. h before MTE is suggested as an early sign of pre-estrus. Changes in SAG 3-5, agonistic behaviors, and SEC are suggested as indicators of the specific stages of MTE. Increased SEC initiated and SAG 3-5 were indicators of late pre-estrus and early estrus (prestand). Peak levels of SAG 3-5, SEC, and social agonistic behaviors were indicators of STE. A sudden decrease in behaviors, preceded by frequent interactions, was indicative of late estrus (poststand). On the basis of the findings reported here, we propose that SAG 3-5, as well as proceptive and receptive patterns of SEC and agonistic behaviors, be included in estrus detection protocols. Updated knowledge of these behavioral interactions may assist when determining the stage of estrus and the optimal time to breed dairy cows. © 2013 American Dairy Science Association.


Sveberg G.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Refsdal A.O.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Erhard H.W.,Agro ParisTech | Erhard H.W.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2011

The objectives of the present study were to describe, in detail, behavior associated with standing estrus (STE) in lactating dairy cows and behavioral changes during complete estrous cycles. Estrus signs were monitored by continuous video recording of 20 Holstein-Friesian (HF) cows housed on an outdoor wood-chip pad during 1 estrous cycle (22 d). Other social behavior was recorded during STE and, for comparison, during 1 selected day when none of the cows were in estrus. Standing stationary when mounted was defined as the primary estrus sign. Anogenital sniff, chin rest, attempt to mount, and mount were defined as secondary estrus signs. Ovarian cyclicity was confirmed by progesterone measurements. This study reports short mean duration of STE (7.1 ± 1.44. h) and estrus (mount period; 12.9 ± 1.84. h) of the 13 cows expressing these signs. All mounting activities involved at least one cow in, or within 4. h of, STE. The most frequent sign during STE was anogenital sniff initiated, followed by chin rest received, chin rest initiated, chase up initiated, anogenital sniff received, mount initiated, head butt, mount received, attempt to mount initiated, push away received, play rub, attempt to mount received, follow initiated, threat received, flehmen, avoid, bellow, and social lick received. Standing and mounting activity in HF cows was inconsistent during estrus, indicating that other signs could be of greater use. The frequency of secondary estrus signs initiated and received increased gradually during the last 12. h before STE, revealing significant differences between periods from 4 to 6 and 1 to 3. h before STE. A considerable increase in receptive behavior (secondary estrus signs received) was identified between 1 to 3. h prior to STE and STE. Both frequent initiated and received behaviors were associated with STE. A significant decrease in the frequency of secondary estrus signs initiated and received occurred 3. h after STE. Cows in STE simultaneously predominantly chose the other standing cow as mate and expressed secondary estrus signs more frequently. Based on the results of this study, we suggest that chase up could be regarded as a reliable indicator of estrus and that the changes in proceptive (initiated) and receptive (received) behavior could be used as predictors of different stages in estrus. Knowledge of these behavioral signs may improve heat detection rates and the ability to predict the optimum breeding time for dairy cows. © 2011 American Dairy Science Association.


Waterhouse K.E.,Team Semin | De Angelis P.M.,Rikshospitalet Radiumhospitalet HF | Haard M.,Svensk Avel | Kommisrud E.,Geno Breeding and AI Association
Animal Reproduction Science | Year: 2010

An association between sperm DNA integrity and fertility was recently shown for frozen-thawed Norwegian Red (NRF) bull semen diluted in skimmed milk egg yolk (SMEY). In general the fertility of NRF cattle is high, however, in comparison with NRF semen in SMEY, NRF semen diluted in Tris EY based extenders has shown reduced fertility. The aim of the present study was to do a split-sample comparison of sperm DNA integrity of NRF bull semen (n = 20) in SMEY and Triladyl® (Tris EY based) during routine cryopreservation procedure and during in vitro incubation of frozen-thawed semen in modified synthetic oviduct fluid (mSOF). In contrast to the high fertility of NRF cattle, Holstein cattle are experiencing a marked decline in fertility. Therefore, the present study also aimed to compare sperm DNA integrity of NRF (n = 20) and Holstein (n = 20) semen diluted in Triladyl® during in vitro incubation. The sperm DNA integrity was measured by susceptibility to in situ acid induced denaturation by the Sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA). Compared to initial values of frozen neat semen, an increase in DNA damage was observed after dilution and cooling (5 °C) and after freezing-thawing of NRF semen in SMEY, but only after freezing-thawing for NRF semen diluted in Triladyl®. Sperm DNA damage of NRF semen increased during in vitro incubation in mSOF; the increase in percentage of spermatozoa with DNA damage was more prominent in SMEY than in Triladyl®, while the degree of damage was higher in Triladyl®, throughout the incubation period. However, while the correlation between DNA damage and sperm survival was negative in SMEY throughout the incubation period, a positive correlation was observed in Triladyl® after 9 h of incubation, indicating a higher presence of DNA damage in the live sperm population. In comparison with Holstein spermatozoa, the sperm DNA integrity of NRF semen reflected a better ability to withstand alterations induced during in vitro incubation in mSOF. In conclusion, sperm DNA integrity of NRF bull semen was altered during the cryopreservation procedure and in vitro incubation in mSOF. Dilution in Triladyl® maintained bull sperm DNA integrity better than dilution in SMEY. Furthermore, alterations in Holstein sperm DNA integrity was more pronounced during in vitro incubation in mSOF compared to NRF bull spermatozoa. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Sveberg G.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Rogers G.W.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Cooper J.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Refsdal A.O.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2015

This study addressed the effect of breed on estrus length and estrous behavior by observing 20 Holstein-Friesian (HF) and 20 Norwegian Red (NRF) cows on an outdoor wood-chip pad through 1 estrous cycle (22. d). Detailed behavioral data were collected by continuous (24 h) video monitoring of all cows. Accurate estimation of duration of estrous periods, behavioral signs (sum per period and counts per hour), and duration and number of sexually active groups were reported through all stages of mount estrus (prestand, standing estrus, and poststand). These dependent variables were analyzed with a basic statistical model that included fixed effects for breed and lactation group. Other independent variables (milk yield, body condition score, and number of cows in standing estrus) were added to the basic model one by one and included in an expanded model if they had an effect on the respective dependent variables. Estrus duration was considerably shorter in HF compared with NRF cows for all the major periods: mount estrus (11.2 ± 3.0 vs. 21.3 ± 2.7 h), standing estrus (7.1 ± 1.4 vs. 11.7 ± 1.3 h), mounting period (6.9 ± 2.7 vs. 18.2 ± 2.4 h), and mounted period (9.2 ± 2.8 vs. 17.5 ± 2.6 h). Additionally, the NRF cows spent more time in sexually active groups (36.1 ± 4.0 vs. 17.6 ± 4.8%) during standing estrus compared with HF cows. The NRF cows participated in a greater number of sexually active groups (9.6 ± 1.3 vs. 5.5 ± 1.3) with longer average duration (0.42 ± 0.04 vs. 0.20 ± 0.04 h) and continued to be more active in these groups through late stages of estrus (poststand) compared with the HF breed. Mounting activity differed between breeds as NRF mounted more times in total (46.3 ± 6.2 vs. 18.1 ± 6.3) and per hour (2.6 ± 0.4 vs. 1.5 ± 0.5) during mount estrus. In addition, NRF tended to express the primary estrous sign, standing when mounted, more often during standing estrus (32.4 ± 5.0 vs. 18.5 ± 5.2). The HF initiated more unsuccessful mounts (1.6 ± 0.3 vs. 0.6 ± 0.3) per hour than did NRF during mount estrus. A significant effect of milk yield was demonstrated only on this behavior. For other estrous signs, HF cows initiated chase-up (2.0 ± 0.5 vs. 0.5 ± 0.4) and anogenital sniff (3.7 ± 0.6 vs. 2.0 ± 0.5) more frequently (counts per hour), whereas NRF expressed more total head butt behavior (32.3 ± 4.7 vs. 14.2 ± 4.8) during mount estrus. Body condition score had a significant effect on receptive behavior. Measures of estrus duration, sexually active group activity, and behavior related to estrus should be subjected to larger studies for improved heat detection and possible implementation in breeding programs. © 2015 American Dairy Science Association.


Aby B.A.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Aass L.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Sehested E.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Vangen O.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Livestock Science | Year: 2012

Future production conditions for beef cattle may become increasingly extensive due to human population growth, climate change and competition for resources, which may limit the amount of concentrates available for beef production. Therefore, the effect of more extensive production conditions on economic values (EV) in beef cattle breeding goals was investigated. Using a deterministic bio-economic model, two alternative production conditions were analysed in two breed groups (Continental and British): (1) entirely roughage-based (RB) and (2) minimum use of concentrates (MC). Three harvested roughage qualities (early, medium and late cut) were included in both scenarios, resulting in a total of 12 situations. Performance of bulls, surplus heifers and replacement heifers was assumed to vary considerably between the situations, while the performance of suckler cows was assumed to be constant. EV were estimated for seven functional traits: herd life of cow (HL), age at first calving, calving interval, stillbirth (S), twinning rate (T), calving difficulty, limb and claw disorders (LC), and for seven production traits: birth weight (BW), carcass weight (CW), carcass conformation, carcass fat, growth rate from birth to 200 days (weaning), growth rate from 200 to 365 days and growth rate from 365 days to slaughter. HL was the economically most important trait followed by CW in all situations, while S, T, LC and BW were of little economic importance. Little re-ranking for the traits was found between situations. The functional traits were more important than or equally important to the production traits for early cut roughage, but had decreasing importance as roughage quality was reduced, and vice versa for the production traits. Even so, functional traits were of higher economic importance for the Continental breed group compared to the British breed group. Small differences between the EV estimated for the RB and MC situations were observed. A sensitivity analysis for roughage price showed increased importance of production traits following an increased roughage price. Substitution of subsidies with settling prices that covers production costs in the profit equation led to increased importance of carcass weight, age at first calving and calcing interval while the importance of herd life of cow was reduced. Overall, the results suggest that changed external productions conditions have minor to moderate effects on future breeding objectives for beef cattle. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Aby B.A.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Aass L.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Sehested E.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Vangen O.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Livestock Science | Year: 2012

A deterministic bio-economic model was developed to estimate marginal economic values for production and functional traits for intensive (Continental) and extensive (British) breed groups in their typical production systems, and to estimate the relative importance of these two groups of traits. The model simulates the economic result of one purebred beef suckler cow and her progeny of each breed group on the basis of their lifetime production. The level of performance of the cow and progeny was set to the population means of traits in the respective breed group. Relative economic values (REV, in percentage) were estimated for 14 traits, seven production and seven functional traits. The REV for the intensive and extensive breed groups, respectively, were: herd life of cow; 39 and 29%, age at first calving; 6 and 4%, calving interval; 4 and 3%, calving difficulty; 2 and 3%, carcass weight; 24 and 29%, carcass conformation; 5 and 5%, carcass fatness; 2 and 5%, growth rate from birth to 200. days; 4 and 6%, growth rate from 200. days to 365. days; 6 and 9% and growth rate from 365. days to slaughter; 7 and 7%. The value of stillbirth, twinning frequency, limb and claw disorders and birth weight were all close to zero in both breed groups. Functional traits were almost as important as the production traits for both breed groups; however, functional traits were even more important for the intensive breed group (51 vs. 39%). The results suggest that functional traits are important traits to include, regardless of breed, when developing breeding objectives for beef cattle, and should to a much larger extent than at present, be recorded in breeding schemes for beef cattle. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Aby B.A.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Aass L.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Sehested E.,GENO Breeding and AI Association | Vangen O.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Livestock Science | Year: 2013

Ruminants contribute considerably to the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. Genetic improvements have a large potential through permanente and cumulative reductions in emissions. Currently, indirect selection through correlated traits considered in broad breeding goals is the best option for reducing emissions. Breeding goal traits are weighed by their respective economic value (EV). The emission of GHG may be included in the bio-economic model, and the costs of GHG emissions may be estimated and included in the calculation of economic values using a shadow price. In this study emission costs were included in the calculations of economic values for two breed group under three production conditions; (1) semi-intensive (2) completely roughage based (RB) and (3) minimum use of concentrates (MC). Three harvested roughage qualities (early, medium and late cut) were included in the two latter situations, giving a total of 14 situations. EV were estimated for seven functional traits: herd life of cow (HL), age at first calving (AFC), calving interval, stillbirth (S), twinning rate (T), calving difficulty, limb and claw disorders, and for seven production traits: birth weight, carcass weight, carcass conformation, carcass fatness, growth rate from birth to 200 days (weaning), growth rate from 200 to 365 days and growth rate from 365 days to slaughter. Including GHG emissions into calculation of economic values (EV) decreased the relative economic importance of the functional traits HL, AFC, S and T, while increasing the importance of the production traits. However, the overall effect of including GHG emission was small and little reranking between the traits was observed. A sensitivity analysis for increased shadow price showed small effects on the EV. The results suggest that the economic values are robust towards the inclusion of GHG emission costs into the profit equation and also towards increased shadow price. Thus, broad breeding goals for beef cattle including both production and functional traits do not need to be changed considerably to take the emission of GHG into account. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | GENO Breeding and AI Association
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of dairy science | Year: 2011

The objectives of the present study were to describe, in detail, behavior associated with standing estrus (STE) in lactating dairy cows and behavioral changes during complete estrous cycles. Estrus signs were monitored by continuous video recording of 20 Holstein-Friesian (HF) cows housed on an outdoor wood-chip pad during 1 estrous cycle (22 d). Other social behavior was recorded during STE and, for comparison, during 1 selected day when none of the cows were in estrus. Standing stationary when mounted was defined as the primary estrus sign. Anogenital sniff, chin rest, attempt to mount, and mount were defined as secondary estrus signs. Ovarian cyclicity was confirmed by progesterone measurements. This study reports short mean duration of STE (7.11.44h) and estrus (mount period; 12.91.84h) of the 13 cows expressing these signs. All mounting activities involved at least one cow in, or within 4h of, STE. The most frequent sign during STE was anogenital sniff initiated, followed by chin rest received, chin rest initiated, chase up initiated, anogenital sniff received, mount initiated, head butt, mount received, attempt to mount initiated, push away received, play rub, attempt to mount received, follow initiated, threat received, flehmen, avoid, bellow, and social lick received. Standing and mounting activity in HF cows was inconsistent during estrus, indicating that other signs could be of greater use. The frequency of secondary estrus signs initiated and received increased gradually during the last 12h before STE, revealing significant differences between periods from 4 to 6 and 1 to 3h before STE. A considerable increase in receptive behavior (secondary estrus signs received) was identified between 1 to 3h prior to STE and STE. Both frequent initiated and received behaviors were associated with STE. A significant decrease in the frequency of secondary estrus signs initiated and received occurred 3h after STE. Cows in STE simultaneously predominantly chose the other standing cow as mate and expressed secondary estrus signs more frequently. Based on the results of this study, we suggest that chase up could be regarded as a reliable indicator of estrus and that the changes in proceptive (initiated) and receptive (received) behavior could be used as predictors of different stages in estrus. Knowledge of these behavioral signs may improve heat detection rates and the ability to predict the optimum breeding time for dairy cows.

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