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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Accuracy of Reported Birth and Calving Dates of Dairy Cattle in the United States

Authors
item Norman, H
item Edwards, Jana - STUDENT, VPI
item Wright, Janice

Submitted to: American Dairy Science Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 24, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Frequencies of births that were reported for specific days of the month were documented for US dairy cattle born since 1987 by birth year, herd size, and registry status and compared with calving frequencies for those dates. Because birth dates are expected to be random and uniformly distributed throughout each month, percentages of births on individual dates were expected to be equal (3.3% for d 1 through d 28, 3.2% for d 29, 3.0% for d 30, and 1.9% for d 31). However, percentages of reported birth dates for d 1, 2, 10, 15, and 20 were higher than expected. Percentage of reported births for d 1 was highest (5.3%)of all days regardless of herd size or registry status. The nonuniformity of birth dates within month indicated that a substantial number of birth dates were unknown. About 1.5% of birth dates overall appeared to have been estimated. The highest frequencies for birth dates on d 1 (5.9 to 7.4%) were found for registered cows during months that initiated age groupings for dairy shows (March, June, September, and December). Alteration of birth dates to gain an advantage in cattle shows is likely to have occurred. Birth dates for some registered cows were intentionally misreported as confirmed by comparison of birth dates of individual cows with calving dates of their dams. Reported calving dates appeared to be more accurate than reported births; the inflated frequency of recorded calvings on d 1 was only about 30% as large as that of recorded births. Because cow age is determined by birth date, proper reporting of birth dates is important to ensure the accuracy of standardized yield and fitness records and the genetic evaluations that are based on these. When animals' recorded birth dates and their dams' calving dates differ, more credence should be given to the latter.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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