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pigs faceThe effect of maternal investment on milk yield in dairy cattle


Year: 2020

Eva Katile Mutua
Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), UK

Supervisor(s): Professor Marie Haskell


The conventional dairy production system in the United Kingdom involves separation of the cow and calf at 24 hours of birth. Due to public concerns regarding this early separation, farmers are taking up the cow with calf system. However, some farmers have cited a great variation in milk yield delivered to the parlour between the cows. This study employed behavioural observations conducted on 47-spring calving cows to investigate behavioural maternal investment and the use of 28-day milk yield records of 110 autumn calving and spring calving cows to investigate the effect of nutritional maternal investment. Cows with only male calves from all pregnancies recorded a higher rate of licking behaviour (P=0.048). Cows that had currently mothered female calves had a higher milk yield average (P=0.003). From the results of this study it can be concluded that the sex of the calf and the percentage of female offspring significantly affect maternal behaviour.