+49 30 838 62618
The objective of this study was to predict stage 2 of calving in Holstein-Friesian heifers. Interobserver reliability and predictive values of relevant signs of imminent parturition (i.e., tail raising, stepping, clear and bloody vaginal discharge, turning the head toward the abdomen, and lying lateral with abdominal contractions) were determined. In the first experiment 32 heifers were included. Three investigators participated as observers in the study. They walked through the precalving pen in pairs and observed pregnant heifers (≥267 d pregnant). Cohen's kappa results for the interobserver reliability were between 0.51 and 0.91. Thirty-seven Holstein-Friesian heifers were enrolled in the second experiment. Heifers were observed hourly for 24 h/d. Signs of imminent parturition that occurred were noted on a checklist. Compared with a precalving control period (4 d before calving), tail raising, clear vaginal discharge, and bloody vaginal discharge were more likely to occur during the last 24 h before calving. Two equations were built using the GENLINMIXED procedure to predict the hours until parturition. In version 1, the absence or presence of each sign of imminent parturition except turning the head toward the abdomen was included. In version 2, hours until parturition were estimated with the factors days of gestation, tail raising, and clear vaginal discharge. Relaxation of the broad pelvic ligaments and teat filling were evaluated twice per day. Prediction of calving with these parameters was not satisfying (positive predictive values were between 35.1 and 72.7% depending on the day of gestation). The possibility of excluding calving for the next 12 h was considerably higher, ranging from 88.5 to 97.1%. These results indicate that predicting stage 2 of calving via direct observation of plausible signs is imprecise and therefore not recommendable.