Prevalence, Risk Factors and Consequent Effect of Dystocia in Holstein Dairy Cows in Iran

  • Atashi, Hadi (Department of Animal Science, Shiraz University) ;
  • Abdolmohammadi, Alireza (Department of Animal Science, Razi University) ;
  • Dadpasand, Mohammad (Department of Animal Science, Shiraz University) ;
  • Asaadi, Anise (School of Veterinary Science, Shiraz University)
  • Received : 2011.08.29
  • Accepted : 2011.11.24
  • Published : 2012.04.01


The objective of this research was to determine the prevalence, risk factors and consequent effect of dystocia on lactation performance in Holstein dairy cows in Iran. The data set consisted of 55,577 calving records on 30,879 Holstein cows in 30 dairy herds for the period March 2000 to April 2009. Factors affecting dystocia were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression models through the maximum likelihood method in the GENMOD procedure. The effect of dystocia on lactation performance and factors affecting calf birth weight were analyzed using mixed linear model in the MIXED procedure. The average incidence of dystocia was 10.8% and the mean (SD) calf birth weight was 42.13 (5.42) kg. Primiparous cows had calves with lower body weight and were more likely to require assistance at parturition (p<0.05). Female calves had lower body weight, and had a lower odds ratio for dystocia than male calves (p<0.05). Twins had lower birth weight, and had a higher odds ratio for dystocia than singletons (p<0.05). Cows which gave birth to a calf with higher weight at birth experienced more calving difficulty (OR (95% CI) = 1.1(1.08-1.11). Total 305-d milk, fat and protein yield was 135 (23), 3.16 (0.80) and 6.52 (1.01) kg less, in cows that experienced dystocia at calving compared with those that did not (p<0.05).


Birth Weight;Dystocia;Holstein


  1. Adamec, V., B. G. Cassell, E. P. Smith and R. E. Pearson. 2006. Effects of inbreeding in the dam on dystocia and stillbirths in US Holsteins. J. Dairy Sci. 89:307-314.
  2. Andersen, H. and M. Plum. 1965. Gestation length and birth weight in cattle and buffaloes: a review. J. Dairy Sci. 48:1224-1235.
  3. Berry, D. P., J. M. Lee, K. A. Macdonald and J. R. Roche. 2007. Body condition score and body weight effects on dystocia and stillbirths and consequent effects on postcalving performance. J. Dairy Sci. 90:4201-4211.
  4. Carnier, P., A. Albera, R. Dal Zotto, A. F. Groen, M. Bona and G. Bittante. 2000. Genetic parameters for direct and maternal calving ability over parities in Piedmontese cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 78:2532-2539.
  5. Dematawena, C. M. B. and P. J. Berger. 1997. Effect of dystocia on yield, fertility, and cow losses and an economic evaluation of dystocia scores for Holsteins. J. Dairy Sci. 80:754-761.
  6. Echternkamp, S. E. and K. E. Gregory. 1999. Effects of twinning on gestation length, retained placenta, and dystocia. J. Anim. Sci. 77:39-47.
  7. Eddy, R. G., O. Davies and C. David. 1991. An economic assessment of twin births in British dairy herds. Vet. Res. 129:526-529.
  8. Ettema, J. F. and J. E. P. Santos. 2004. Impact of age at calving on lactation, reproduction, health, and income in first-parity Holsteins on commercial farms. J. Dairy Sci. 87:2730-2742.
  9. Fourichon, C., H. Seegers and X. Malher. 2000. Effect of disease on reproduction in the dairy cow: a meta-analysis. Theriogenology 53:1729-1759.
  10. Johanson, J. M. and P. J. Berger. 2003. Birth weight as a predictor of calving ease and perinatal mortality in Holstein cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 86:3745-3755.
  11. Linden, T. C., R. C. Bicalho and D. V. Nydam. 2009. Calf birth weight and its association with calf and cow survivability, disease incidence, reproductive performance, and milk production. J. Dairy Sci. 92:2580-2588.
  12. Lombard, J. E., F. B. Garry, S. M. Tomlinson and L. P. Garber. 2007. Impacts of dystocia on health and survival of dairy calves. J. Dairy Sci. 90:1751-1760.
  13. Lopez de Maturana, E., A. Legarra, L. Varona and E. Ugarte. 2007. Analysis of fertility and dystocia in Holsteins using recursive models to handle censored and categorical data. J. Dairy Sci. 90:2012-2024.
  14. Mee, J. F. 2008. Prevalence and risk factors for dystocia in dairy cattle: a review. Vet. J. 176:93-101.
  15. Meijering, A. 1984. Dystocia and stillbirth in cattle-Review of causes, relations and implications. Livest. Prod. Sci. 11:143-177.
  16. Meyer, C. L., P. J. Berger, K. J. Koehler, J. R. Thompson and C. G. Sattler. 2001. Phenotypic trends in incidence of stillbirth for Holsteins in the United States. J. Dairy Sci. 84:515-523.
  17. Nielen, M., Y. H. Schukken, D. T. Scholl, H. J. Wilbrink and A. Brand. 1989. Twinning in dairy cattle: A study of risk factors and effects. Theriogenology 32:845-862.
  18. Norman, H. D., J. L. Hutchison and R. H. Miller. 2010. Use of sexed semen and its effect on conception rate, calf sex, dystocia, and stillbirth of Holsteins in the United States. J. Dairy Sci. 93:3880-3890.
  19. Olson, K. M., B. G. Cassell, A. J. McAllister and S. P. Washburn. 2009. Dystocia, stillbirth, gestation length, and birth weight in Holstein, Jersey, and reciprocal crosses from a planned experiment. J. Dairy Sci. 92:6167-6175.
  20. Rajala-Schultz, P. J. and Y. T. Grohn. 1999. Culling of dairy cows. Part I. Effects of diseases on culling in Finnish Ayrshire cows. Prev. Vet. Med. 41:195-208.
  21. Rajala-Schultz, P. J., Y. T. Grohn and C. E. McCulloch. 1999. Effects of milk fever, ketosis, and lameness on milk yield in dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 82:288-294.
  22. SAS Institute. 2003. SAS user's guide. Version 9.1.SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC.

Cited by

  1. Relationship between dystocia and the lactation number, stillbirth and mastitis prevalence in dairy cows vol.86, pp.4, 2018,