Analysis of Factors Affecting the Length of Productive Life in Croatian Dairy Cows

N. RAGUZ1, S. JOVANOVAC1, V. GANTNER1, G. MESZAROS2 and J. SOLKNER2
1 Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Faculty of Agriculture, Trg Svetog Trojstva 3, 31000 Osijek, Croatia
2 University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Division of Livestock Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Abstract

RAGUZ, N., S. JOVANOVAC, V. GANTNER, G. MESZAROS and J. SOLKNER, 2011. Analysis of factors affecting the length of productive life in Croatian dairy cows. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 17: 232-240

An analysis of factors affecting productive life of Croatian dairy cows was carried out using a proportional hazard model based on Weibull distribution, using Survival Kit 6.0. The data consisted of 62,877 Simmental and 43,653 Holstein cows collected from October 1, 1992 until December 11, 2009. Cows alive at the end of the study (20.1% Holstein, 19.4% Simmental) were considered as right censored. The probability of being culled was assigned as a product of the baseline hazard function and the function of explanatory variables. The factors that most affected the length of productive life were parity, year * season and milk production level within a herd, all time dependent variables. The risk decreased with parity. Animals in first parity were most exposed to risk of culling, that is about 21 times (Holstein) and about 14 times (Simmental) more than the animals in fourth parity, which was assigned as a reference class. The year * season effect showed linear increase of risk to be culled, with a peak year 2007. Relation between milk production level and the risk ratios indicated slightly non-linear trend. Very low producing animals (less than 1.5 standard deviations below average) were at 1.311 (Holstein) and 1.265 (Simmental) times higher risk to be culled than the average producing cows. At the same time, the Simmental cows from small herds (<5 cows) were at even higher risks of being culled according to their milk production. Results of the herd size effect indicated increase of culling risk in bigger herds under assumption of higher selection intensity. The effect of age at first calving, as well as effect of region had lowest influence on the length of productive life.

Key words: dairy cows, length of productive life, survival analysis, risk ratio
Abbreviations: LPL = length of productive life

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