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item Hutchison, Jana

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/20/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2004
Citation: Hutchison, J.L., Tozer, P.R. 2004. Using activity and milk yield as predictors of fresh cow disorders. Journal of Dairy Science. 87(2):524-531.

Interpretive Summary: Milk yield and walking activity were recorded using a computerized dairy management system, and a veterinarian diagnosed disease occurrences. The activity of dairy cows diagnosed with a metabolic or digestive disorder decreased 2 days before the cow was diagnosed compared to healthy cows. Changes in daily walking activity, along with changes in daily milk yield, was proven to be beneficial when used to identify potential disorders before breeding occurred. Fresh cow disorders, such as ketosis, could be detected 6 to 8 days earlier based on activity and 5 to 6 days earlier based on milk yield. Therefore, daily walking activity may be a useful tool when attempting to detect transition cow disorders and preventing further reduction in milk yield loss.

Technical Abstract: The objective was to determine whether daily walking activity and milk yields could be used as predictors of metabolic and digestive disorders early in lactation. Data were collected from 1996 through 1999 from 1445 dairy cows in 3 Florida herds. Walking activity, milk yield, and other measures were collected from a computerized dairy management system. Mixed models analysis was used for data on cows before their first detected estrus, as identified by difference in activity. Healthy cows were defined as those without any metabolic or digestive disorder during the prebreeding stage, whereas a sick cow had an occurrence of those disorders at any time during the prebreeding stage. Metabolic disorders were ketosis, retained placenta, and milk fever. Digestive disorders included displaced abomasum, indigestion, reduced feed intake, traumatic gastritis, acidosis, and bloat. Data from cows with known cases of ketosis, left displaced abomasum, and digestive disorders were analyzed to determine changes in activity and milk yield before those specific disorders were clinically diagnosed. Although walking activity was generally lower among sick cows, cows with ketosis, left displaced abomasum, and digestive disorders had higher than average activity 8, 9, and 8 d, respectively, before each diagnosed disorder. Daily milk yields of sick cows were approximately 15 kg/d less than milk yields of healthy cows. Milk yields were lower by 6, 7, and 5 d, respectively, before diagnoses of ketosis, left displaced abomasum, and digestive disorders. Cows with ketosis, left displaced abomasum, and general digestive disorders could possibly be detected about 5 to 6 d earlier than clinical diagnoses based on changes in daily walking activity and milk yield.