Apr 18, 2020

Big dairy data to disentangle the effect of geo-environmental, physiological and morphological factors on milk production of mountain-pastured Braunvieh cows

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
S. DuruzStephane Joost


The transhumance system, which consists in moving animals to high mountain pastures during summer, plays a considerable role in preserving both local biodiversity and traditions, as well as protecting against natural hazard. In cows, particularly, milk production is observed to decline as a response to food shortage and climatic stress, leading to atypical lactation curves that are barely described by current lactation models. Here, we relied on five million monthly milk records from over 200,000 Braunvieh and Original Braunvieh cows to devise a new model accounting for transhumance, and test the influence of environmental, physiological, and morphological factors on cattle productivity. Counter to expectations, environmental conditions in the mountain showed a globally limited impact on milk production during transhumance, with cows in favourable conditions producing only 10% less compared to cows living in adverse conditions, and with precipitation in spring and altitude revealing to be the most production-affecting variables. Conversely, physiological factors as lactation number and pregnancy stage presented an important impact over the whole lactation cycle with 20% difference in milk production, and may therefore alter the...Continue Reading

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