Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/20/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The period around calving is stressful for first-calf heifers. The objective of this project was to investigate effects of parlor acclimation and pre-milking on behavior, production, and health parameters. Effects on production, parturition, edema, and SCC are reported here. Forty-eight first-calf heifers, blocked by expected calving date, were randomly assigned to control (CTL), parlor acclimation (ACC), or pre-milk treatment (PRE). The ACC heifers were taken through the parlor without milking and the PRE heifers were milked for three weeks prior to expected calving. For all heifers, calving ease scores (1,easy to 5,severe), calf birth weights, and incidence of retained placenta were recorded. At first milking, udder edema was approximated by the change in area between teats before and after milking. Milk weights and SCC were collected and measured for the first 14 days of lactation. Linear somatic cell scores (SCS) were obtained by using a log base 2 transformation of SCC. The model used to analyze the data included fixed effects of block and treatment. Block by treatment interaction was not significant for any trait and was removed from subsequent analyses. The models for calf weight and calving ease including sex of calf. No significant differences (P<.05) were observed for calving ease, calf birth weights, or incidence of retained placenta. Reduction in udder area (square cm) was significantly greater for PRE (44) than for ACC (28) or CTL (17) (P<.01). Compared to ACC and CTL, PRE heifers produced significantly more milk in the first and second wk (P<.01). Daily SCS was less for PRE heifers, but geometric mean of daily SCS was less only for the wk 2 (P<.01). Prepartum milking of heifers appeared to have beneficial effects on production and health of heifers near parturition.