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    The scale of sexed semen use to avoid the birth of unwanted bull calves in the UK dairy industry depends on several economic factors. It has been suggested in other studies that calf gender may affect milk yield in Holsteins- something that would affect the economics of sexed semen use. The present study used a large milk recording data set to evaluate the effect of calf gender (both calf born and calf in utero) on both milk yield and saturated fat content. Linear regression was used to model data for first lactation and second lactation separately. Results showed that giving birth to a heifer calf conferred a 1% milk yield advantage in first lactation heifers, whilst giving birth to a bull calf conferred a 0.5% advantage in second lactation. Heifer calves were also associated with a 0.66kg reduction in saturated fatty acid content of milk in first lactation, but there was no significant difference between the genders in second lactation. No relationship was found between calf gender and milk mono- or polyunsaturated fatty acid content. The observed effects of calf gender on both yield and saturated fatty acid content was considered minor when compared to nutritional and genetic influences.


    Amy V Gillespie, James L Ehrlich, Dai H Grove-White. Effect of Calf Gender on Milk Yield and Fatty Acid Content in Holstein Dairy Cows. PloS one. 2017;12(1):e0169503

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    PMID: 28068399

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