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Fuerst-Waltl, B; Aichhorn, T; Fuerst, C.
(2019): Mountain pasturing of rearing stock reduces the culling risk as dairy cows
ANIMAL. 2019; 13(1): 209-212. FullText FullText_BOKU

Alpine transhumance or droving livestock to mountainous areas during summer months is highly relevant for Austrian agriculture but also for other countries in Alpine regions. Access of rearing stock to mountain pastures is often claimed to be beneficial with respect to health and longevity, but the robust evidence is scarce. Therefore, its effect was tested by including it in the routine genetic evaluation data set for longevity. Alpine transhumance records from 2004 to 2013 were used. After several plausibility checks and restriction to animals with sire and dam known, records of 871 287 dual-purpose Fleckvieh cows sired by 9953 bulls were available. Data were analysed by means of survival analysis accounting for the time-dependent fixed effects of region-year-season, relative performance within herd, change of herd size, and Alpine pasturing of cows, the fixed effects age at first calving and Alpine pasturing of rearing stock, the random time-dependent effect of herd-year and the random genetic effects of sire and maternal grandsire. Fleckvieh cows that had access to Alpine pasture during their rearing period at least once for a minimum of 60 days had functional longevity that was nearly 2 months prolonged compared with cows that had always stayed on the farms as calves or heifers. In a more detailed analysis, the lowest relative culling risk among the significant estimates was observed for cows that had been Alpine pastured in years 1 and 3; it was about 15% below that of cows that never had access to mountain grazing. Evidence for the beneficial effect of Alpine pasturing of rearing stock on the animals' later fitness, indicated by longevity, could thus be provided.
Authors BOKU Wien:
F├╝rst-Waltl Birgit

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
alpine pasture
rearing stock
functional longevity

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