Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Stress Effects on dairy cattle fertility and production

Stress Effects on dairy cattle fertility and production

Date :  03 December 2010

Professor M Subhan Qureshi Professor Qureshi is a distinguished academic and Chairman of the Livestock Management Department at the KP Agricultural University Peshawar Pakistan. He outlined some of the key factors that impact on the reproductive efficiency of the Pakistani dairy herd. The fertility of small-holder herds is typically low as this is a physiological function that is not essential for survival.

Thus under-nutrition and nutritional imbalance through feeding high protein-low energy diets suppress ovarian cyclicity. Most often this can be determined by simply assessing the body condition scores of animals.

Interestingly ovarian activity is often negatively associated with insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF1) levels since this is associated with higher milk yields. Clearly nutrient partitioning is playing a role here particularly when cows and buffalo are underfed. Prof. Qureshi then described how the fat component of milk changes with stage of lactation: milk fat generally becomes more saturated as lactation advances. Given that milk is designed to provide nturition for calves clearly this mechanism may have a developmental role in the gastrointestinal tract of the calf as it approaches weaning. Interestingly, mid-chain length fatty acids (C12-C14) are more prevalent in milk from crossbred (Sahiwal-Friesian crosses) than in purebred Sahiwal milk in which shorter chain saturated fatty acids prevail.

The lead taken by Professor Qureshi to improve the productivity of dairy cattle in the cattle colonies located adjacent to Peshawar will provide a major challenge for his University as they seek to develop dairy extension activities for farmers operating in this important urban dairy system. The Graham Centre will be contributing to this ambitious program through our Agricultural Sector Linkages Dairy Program with Pakistan, co-ordinated by staff within the School of Animal and Veterinary Science.