Use of stochastic simulation to evaluate the reduction in methane emissions and improvement in reproductive efficiency from routine hormonal interventions in dairy herds
Archer, Simon C. and Hudson, C.D. and Green, Martin J. (2015) Use of stochastic simulation to evaluate the reduction in methane emissions and improvement in reproductive efficiency from routine hormonal interventions in dairy herds. PLoS ONE, 10 (6). e0127846/1-e0127846/18. ISSN 1932-6203
This study predicts the magnitude and between herd variation in changes of methane emissions and production efficiency associated with interventions to improve reproductive efficiency in dairy cows. Data for 10,000 herds of 200 cows were simulated. Probability of conception was predicted daily from the start of the study (parturition) for each cow up to day 300 of lactation. Four scenarios of differing first insemination management were simulated for each herd using the same theoretical cows: A baseline scenario based on breeding from observed oestrus only, synchronisation of oestrus for pre-set first insemination using 2 methods, and a regime using prostaglandin treatments followed by first insemination to observed oestrus. Cows that did not conceive to first insemination were re-inseminated following detection of oestrus. For cows that conceived, gestation length was 280 days with cessation of milking 60 days before calving. Those cows not pregnant after 300 days of lactation were culled and replaced by a heifer. Daily milk yield was calculated for 730 days from the start of the study for each cow. Change in mean reproductive and economic outputs were summarised for each herd following the 3 interventions. For each scenario, methane emissions were determined by daily forage dry matter intake, forage quality, and cow replacement risk. Linear regression was used to summarise relationships. In some circumstances improvement in reproductive efficiency using the programmes investigated was associated with reduced cost and methane emissions compared to reliance on detection of oestrus. Efficiency of oestrus detection and the time to commencement of breeding after calving influenced variability in changes in cost and methane emissions. For an average UK herd this was a saving of at least £50 per cow and a 3.6% reduction in methane emissions per L of milk when timing of first insemination was pre-set.
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