The majority (>90%) of dairy cattle will conceive following insemination or natural service, but only about 55% of cattle calve to any single mating. The majority of losses occur before the time of pregnancy recognition and such cattle are generally detected in oestrus and rebred. However, losses do occur after the period of pregnancy recognition resulting in prolonged duration of open periods and increased probability of culling for infertility. Reasons for loss include genetic abnormalities, infectious agents such as Neospora caninum, bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), and plant toxicities. The incidence, causes and economic impact of pregnancy loss are poorly defined in New Zealand. In a survey of bulk tank milk, 93% of 141 dairy herds had >10% of cows with BVDV antibody. In another study, 602 herds with a high vs. low bulk tank milk (BTM) BVDV antibody concentration were associated with 1.7% higher annual abortion rates, 2.9d longer calving to conception intervals, 0.04 more services/conception, and 1kg/d reduced solid corrected milk production. Losses due to BVDV were assessed as $90/cow/year in affected herds. It is concluded that pregnancy loss imposes significant economic costs on the New Zealand dairy industry and that BVDV is likely to be major contributing causative agent. Further research is required to evaluate the effects of BVDV on reproduction in dairy herds, the risk factors for the disease and the cost:benefit of control or eradication strategies.

CWR, Compton, S McDougall, and C Heuer

Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 66, Napier, 162-167, 2006
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