The Effect of Age at First Calving and Calving Interval on Productive Life and Lifetime Profit in Korean Holsteins

  • Do, Changhee (Department of Animal Biosystem Science, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Chungnam National University) ;
  • Wasana, Nidarshani (Department of Animal Biosystem Science, College of Agriculture and Life Science, Chungnam National University) ;
  • Cho, Kwanghyun (National Institute of Animal Science, RDA) ;
  • Choi, Yunho (National Institute of Animal Science, RDA) ;
  • Choi, Taejeong (National Institute of Animal Science, RDA) ;
  • Park, Byungho (National Institute of Animal Science, RDA) ;
  • Lee, Donghee (University of Seoul)
  • Received : 2013.02.18
  • Accepted : 2013.05.30
  • Published : 2013.11.01


This study was performed to estimate the effect of age at first calving and first two calving intervals on productive life and life time profit in Korean Holsteins. Reproduction data of Korean Holsteins born from 1998 to 2004 and lactation data from 276,573 cows with birth and last dry date that calved between 2000 and 2010 were used for the analysis. Lifetime profit increased with the days of life span. Regression of Life Span on Lifetime profit indicated that there was an increase of 3,800 Won (approximately $3.45) of lifetime profit per day increase in life span. This is evidence that care of each cow is necessary to improve net return and important for farms maintaining profitable cows. The estimates of heritability of age at first calving, first two calving intervals, days in milk for lifetime, lifespan, milk income and lifetime profit were 0.111, 0.088, 0.142, 0.140, 0.143, 0.123, and 0.102, respectively. The low heritabilities indicated that the productive life and economical traits include reproductive and productive characteristics. Age at first calving and interval between first and second calving had negative genetic correlation with lifetime profit (-0.080 and -0.265, respectively). Reducing age at first calving and first calving interval had a positive effect on lifetime profit. Lifetime profit increased to approximately 2,600,000 (2,363.6) from 800,000 Won ($727.3) when age at first calving decreased to (22.3 month) from (32.8 month). Results suggested that reproductive traits such as age at first calving and calving interval might affect various economical traits and consequently influenced productive life and profitability of cows. In conclusion, regard of the age at first calving must be taken with the optimum age at first calving for maximum lifetime profit being 22.5 to 23.5 months. Moreover, considering the negative genetic correlation of first calving interval with lifetime profit, it should be reduced against the present trend of increase.


Grant : Development of economically important traits and technologies for sustainable dairy production

Supported by : National Institute of Animal Science


  1. Abe, H., Y. Masuda, and M. Suzuki. 2009. Relationships between reproductive traits of heifers and cows and yield traits for Holsteins in Japan. J. Dairy Sci. 92:4055-4062
  2. Bagnato, A. and P. A Oltenacu. 1994. Phenotypic evaluation of fertility traits and their association with milk production of Italian Friesian cattle. J. Dairy Sci. 77:874-882.
  3. Cole, J. B., J. L. Hutchison, D. M. Bickhart, and D. J. Null. 2011. Optimal age at first calving for U.S. dairy cattle. American Dairy Science Association.
  4. Esselmont, R. J. and M. A. Kossaibati. 1997. Culling in 50 dairy herds in England. Vet. Rec. 140:36-39.
  5. 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
  6. Hare, E., H. D. Norman, and J. R. Wright. 2006a. Trends in calving ages and calving intervals for dairy cattle breeds in the United States. J. Dairy Sci. 89:365-370.
  7. Hare, E., H. D. Norman, and J. R. Wright. 2006b. Survival rates and productive herd life of dairy cattle in the United States. J. Dairy Sci. 89:3713-3720.
  8. Haworth, G. M., W. P. Tranter, J. N. Chuck, Z. Cheng, D. B C. Wathes. 2008. Relationships between age at first calving and first lactation milk yield, and lifetime productivity and longevity in dairy cows. Vet. Rec. 162:643-647.
  9. Jamrozik, J., J. Fatehi, G. J. Kistemaker, and L. R. Schaeffer, 2005. Estimates of genetic parameters for Canadian Holstein female reproduction traits. J. Dairy Sci. 88:2199-2208.
  10. Kalantari, A. S. and V. E. Cabrera. 2012. The effect of reproductive performance on the dairy cattle herd value assessed by integrating a daily dynamic programming model with a daily Markov chain model. J. Dairy Sci. 95:6160-6170.
  11. Korea Dairy Committee. 2009. Korean milk pricing system 2009. Dairy Statistics Yearbook. Retrieved Feb. 4, 2013, from
  12. Lormore, Mike. 2005. The case for a quality dairy replacement program. In Proceedings from Dairy Calves and Heifers: Integrating Biology and
  13. Meszaros, G., J. Wolf, and O. Kadle.ik, 2008. Factors affecting the functional length of productive life in Slovak Pinzgau cows. Czech J. Anim. Sci. 53:91-97.
  14. Meyer, K. 2010. WOMBAT: A program for mixed model analyses by restricted maximum likelihood. Retrieved from
  15. National Agricultural Cooperative Federation. 2010. Nonghyup monthly survey bulletin. V12.
  16. Nieuwhof, G. J., R. L. Powell, and H. D. Norman. 1989. Ages at calving and calving interval for dairy cattle in the United States. J. Dairy Sci. 72:685-692.
  17. Nilforooshan, M. A. and M. A. Edriss. 2004. Effect of age at first calving on some productive and longevity traits in Iranian Holsteins of Isfahan Province. J. Dairy Sci. 87:2130-2135.
  18. Olori, V. E., T. H. E. Meuwissenand, and R. F. Veerkamp. 2002. Calving interval and survival breeding values as a measure of cow fertility in a pasture-based production system with seasonal calving. J. Dairy Sci. 85:689-696.
  19. Oltenacu, P. A. and D. M. Broom. 2010. The impact of genetic selection for increased milk yield on the welfare of dairy cows. Anim. Welf. 19:39-49.
  20. Perez-Cabal, M. A. and R. Alenda. 2003. Lifetime profit as an individual trait and prediction of its breeding values in Spanish Holstein cows. J. Dairy Sci. 86:4115-4122.
  21. Pirlo, G., F. Miglior, and M. Speroni. 2000. Effect of age at first calving on production traits and on difference between milk yield returns and rearing costs in Italian Holsteins. J. Dairy Sci. 83:603-608.
  22. Pollott, G. E. 2011. Short communication: Do Holstein lactations of varied lengths have different characteristics? J. Dairy Sci. 94:6173-6180.
  23. Pryce, I. E., M. D. Royal, P. C. Garnsworthy, and I. L. Mao. 2004. Fertility in tlie high-producing dairy cow. Livest. Prod. Sci. 86:125-135.
  24. Simerl, N. A., C. J. Wilcox, W. W. Thatcher, and F. G. Martin. 1991. Prepartum and peripartum reproductive performance of dairy heifers freshening at young ages. J. Dairy Sci. 74:1724-1729.
  25. Statistics Korea. 2010. Livestock production cost, 2010. Retrieved Feb. 4, 2013, from
  26. Van Arendonk, J. A. M., R. Hovenier, and W. De Boer. 1989. Phenotypic and genetic association between fertility and production in dairy cows. Livest. Prod. Sci. 21:1-12.
  27. VanRaden, P. M. 2002. Selection of dairy cattle for lifetime profit. 7th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Proceedings. Montpellier, France.
  28. VanRaden, P. M. and E. J. H. Klaaskate. 1993. Genetic evaluation of length of productive life including predicted longevity of live cows. J. Dairy Sci. 76:2758-2764.
  29. Weigel, K. A. and R. Rekaya. 2000. Genetic parameters for reproductive traits of Holstein cattle in California and Minnesota. J. Dairy Sci. 83:1072-1080.
  30. Windig, J. J., M. P. L. Calus, B. Beerda, and R. F. Veerkamp, 2006. Genetic correlations between milk production and health and fertility depending on herd environment. J. Dairy Sci. 89:1765-1775.

Cited by

  1. Genetic and phenotypic associations of type traits and body condition score with dry matter intake, milk yield, and number of breedings in first lactation Canadian Holstein cows vol.96, pp.3, 2016,
  2. Genomic evaluation of age at first calving vol.100, pp.8, 2017,
  3. Comparative performance of dairy cows in low-input smallholder and high-input production systems in South Africa vol.50, pp.7, 2018,
  4. Genetic association between stayability, and productive and reproductive traits in Holstein cows vol.58, pp.10, 2018,
  5. Growth, reproductive, and productive performance of Begait cattle under different herd management systems in northern Ethiopia vol.50, pp.6, 2018,