April 2020


Records of late-gestation heat stress studies conducted over 10 consecutive years in Florida were pooled and analyzed to test the hypothesis that maternal hyperthermia during late gestation impairs performance of the offspring across multiple generations and lactations, ultimately impeding the profitability of the US dairy sector. Dry-pregnant multiparous dams were actively cooled (CL; shade of a freestall barn, fans and water soakers, n = 196) or not (HT; shade only, n = 198) during the last 46 d of gestation, concurrent with the entire dry period. After data mining, records of 156 daughters (F1) that were born either to CL (CLF1, n = 77) or HT dams (HTF1, n = 79) and 45 granddaughters (F2) that were born either to CLF1 (CLF2, n = 24) or HTF1 (HTF2, n = 21) were used in the analysis. Life events and daily milk yield for 3 lactations of daughters and granddaughters were obtained. Milk yield, reproductive performance, and productive life data were analyzed using MIXED and GLIMMIX procedures, and lifespan was analyzed using PHREG and LIFETEST procedures of SAS (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Milk production of HTF1 was reduced in their first (2.2 kg/d), second (2.3 kg/d), and third lactations (6.5 kg/d) compared with CLF1. More HTF1 were culled before first calving, and the productive life and lifespan of HTF1 were reduced relative to CLF1 (4.9 and 11.7 mo, respectively). The granddaughters (HTF2) born to HTF1 produced less milk in their first lactation (1.3 kg/d) relative to granddaughters (CLF2) born to CLF1. More HTF2 were culled before first breeding relative to CLF2; however, productive life and lifespan were not different between HTF2 and CLF2 animals. An economic analysis was then performed based on the number of heat stress days, dry cows per state, and the aforementioned impairments on daughters’ lifespans and milk production. Collectively in the United States, the economic losses for additional heifer rearing cost, reduced productive life, and reduced milk yield of the F1 offspring were estimated at $134, $90, and $371 million per year, respectively. In summary, late-gestation heat stress exerts carryover effects on at least 2 generations. Providing heat abatement to dry-pregnant dams is important to rescue milk loss of the dam and to prevent losses in their progeny.

J. Laporta1, F. C. Ferreira2, V. Ouellet1, B. Dado-Senn1, A. K. Almeida1, A. De Vries1,and G. E. Dahl1
1Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611
2Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, Tulare 93274

J. Dairy Sci. 103:7555–7568 https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2020-18154