Management practices and heifer characteristics ...

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Title Management practices and heifer characteristics associated with early lactation somatic cell count of Belgian dairy heifers
Author(s) S. De Vliegher, H. Laevens, H. W. Barkema, Ian R. Dohoo, Henrik E. Stryhn, G. Opsomer, A. de Kruif
Journal Journal of Dairy Science
Date 2004
Volume 87
Issue 4
Start page 937
End page 947
Abstract Associations between somatic cell counts (SCC) from heifers between 5 and 14 d in milk (DIM) and both herd-management practices and heifer characteristics were studied for 1912 heifers in 159 dairy herds in Flanders (Belgium). In higher-producing herds and in herds with an average calving age of heifers > 27 mo, SCC of heifers was lower than in less-producing herds or in herds with an average calving age < or = 27 mo. Heifers raised in herds with a higher bulk-milk somatic cell count had higher SCC. In herds in which heifers calved on slatted floors, heifers had lower SCC compared with herds in which heifers calved on nonslatted floors. A significant difference in SCC was observed between provinces. At the heifer level, SCC decreased with increasing DIM. On average, heifers calving in April to June had higher SCC, compared with those calving in the other months of the year. In the multilevel regression models, nearly all the variations of SCC resided at the heifer level, indicating that preventive measures against udder health problems in freshening dairy heifers should, in the short term, focus more on factors that vary between heifers than on factors that vary between herds. However, for the long term, the need to identify new, and to implement known, herd-level strategies is important.

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