By Victoria Iqbal, 2022 CDCB Intern and PhD student in Animal and Avian Sciences at University of Maryland
During the CDCB internship in summer 2022, I analyzed the termination codes (the reason why cattle left the herd) and made connections to common health traits as to why they left the herd.
The first part of my analysis included finding the termination code frequencies for 2021. As for the heifers, only 400 were coded for why they left the herd. More termination codes were added in 2020, as well as a secondary termination code to further specify reasons animals exited the herds. Unfortunately, these new codes have not been utilized. Throughout all lactations, the top reason why cattle left the herd was unspecified, followed by low production. In lactation four, death is the top reason why the cattle exit the herd. As for differences between breeds, there were not significant breed differences recorded in 2021.
With the help of Kristen Gaddis, Duane Norman, Nick Wu, Javier Burchard and João Dürr, I will continue my work with this project to create a model that indicates the largest influences of why cattle leave the herd. I hope this data will encourage producers to more consistently code the reason(s) their cattle left the herd and perhaps help reduce the exits due to involuntary reasons. Working at the CDCB has enabled me to work with a real world dairy management topic and taught me more skills on data interpretation. I look forward to continuing this project for my thesis at the University of Maryland and applying my knowledge as a future researcher and geneticist.