Impact of FMD outbreak on milk production and heifers' growth on a dairy herd in southern Iran

Foot and mouth disease is endemic in Middle Eastern countries including Iran but its impact is poorly characterized. The present study was conducted to evaluate the impact of FMD outbreak on milk production and heifers' growth in an industrial dairy herd located in Fars province, southern Iran. Data about individual milk production, heifers' growth and total daily milk (sold for manufacturing), its fat and protein content and somatic cell counts were collected from the herd database. Based on the results of the linear mixed models, a significant decline in individual milk production after the outbreak was observed compared with before the outbreak. There was a total reduction of 8.0 and 4.7% in mean daily milk production per cow after the outbreak when compared with before (over a 42days outbreak period) in lactation one (P<0.001) and lactation >/=2 cows (P=0.024), respectively. The total daily milk (P=0.027) and protein (P=0.002) showed significant decline during the outbreak period. The fat content decreased after the outbreak (P=0.014). Somatic cell counts did not show significant changes. The recorded heifers' weights (4-17 months of age) showed 7.1kg decrease after the outbreak in comparison with the period before that (P<0.001). In conclusion, we observed a negative impact of FMD outbreak on milk production and heifers' growth in study herd. The impact on daily milk production was less than the values reported previously. This difference could be attributed at least partly to differences in livestock genetics and management practices. Lower growth rate of heifers after the outbreak period could potentially extend the age at first calving. It is suggested that farmers are educated on awareness and preparation for infectious disease outbreaks and to practice good management routines that could potentially reduce the economic impact of these diseases.

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