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Relationship between accumulated heat stress during the dry period, body condition score, and reproduction parameters of Holstein cows in tropical conditions

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To estimate the relationship between heat stress during the last 60 days prepartum, body condition score and certain reproductive traits in the subsequent lactation of Holstein cows, 564 multiparous cows and 290 primiparous cows from four dairy herds were used in a hot, humid region. Maximum prepartum degree days were estimated to quantify the degree of heat stress. Multiple regressions analyses and logistic regression analysis were performed to determine the effect of prepartum heat stress and body condition change on reproductive parameters, which were obtained from DHIA forms at the end of the lactation. Multiparous and primiparous cows which gained body condition score from calving to 60 d postpartum exhibited 28 and 27 fewer days open (P < 0.05), respectively, than cows not gaining. There was no effect (P > 0.05) of heat stress measurement on days open or services per conception in either multiparous or primiparous cows. During hotter months of calving, multiparous cows showed higher services per conception and primiparous cows showed higher days open and services per conception (P < 0.05). Maximum prepartum degree-days were positively associated (P < 0.05) with calving difficulty score. Multiparous cows with high body condition score at calving were 1.47 times more likely to present a very difficult calving than cows that calved in October (P < 0.05). Collectively, these results suggest that reproductive performance was not affected by cumulative prepartum heat stress although it was associated with very difficult calving score.

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Fig. 1



Calving Difficulty Score


Days Open


Maximum Prepartum Degree Days


Services Per Conception


Temperature-Humidity Index


Body Condition Score


Change in BCS from dry off to calving


Change in BCS from calving to 60 d postpartum


Statistical Analysis System


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The authors thank the herdsman of each dairy involved for their assistance in the present research. The first author appreciates the financial support provided by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología and from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, both institutions in Mexico.

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Correspondence to Leonel Avendaño-Reyes.

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Avendaño-Reyes, L., Fuquay, J.W., Moore, R.B. et al. Relationship between accumulated heat stress during the dry period, body condition score, and reproduction parameters of Holstein cows in tropical conditions. Trop Anim Health Prod 42, 265–273 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-009-9415-7

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  • Dairy cattle
  • Degree days
  • Reproduction performance
  • Calving difficulty score