Associations between milk-protein production and reproduction, health, and culling.
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Associations between protein production and individual-cow reproductive performance, health, and culling were investigated in a 2-year observational study involving a convenience sample of 75 Ontario, 5 Alberta, and 3 Nova Scotia dairy farms. Protein production was defined by 305-day lactation protein yields and by estimated breeding values for protein yield. After controlling for the level of milk production, herd, parity, breed, and season of calving, there were no significant associations between either measure of protein production and days open or days to first breeding. The only associations between protein production and disease were small positive associations between the estimated breeding value for protein yield and cystic ovaries and mean lactation somatic cell count. The risk of culling, after controlling for the level of milk production, was negatively associated with previous-lactation 305-day protein yield for parity three animals only. The estimated breeding value for protein yield had a small negative association with the overall risk of culling, although the associations were not significant for individual lactations.