Sahar, M. W., Beaver, A., von Keyserlingk, M. A. G. et al. 2020. Predicting disease in transition dairy cattle based on behaviors measured before calving. Animals 10(6), 928.
Dairy cattle are particularly susceptible to metritis, hyperketonemia (HYK), and mastitis in the weeks after calving. These high-prevalence transition diseases adversely affect animal welfare, milk production, and profitability. Our aim was to use prepartum behavior to predict which cows have an increased risk of developing these conditions after calving. The behavior of 213 multiparous and 105 primiparous Holsteins was recorded for approximately three weeks before calving by an electronic feeding system. Cows were also monitored for signs of metritis, HYK, and mastitis in the weeks after calving. The data were split using a stratified random method: we used 70% of our data (hereafter referred to as the “training” dataset) to develop the model and the remaining 30% of data (i.e., the “test” dataset) to assess the model’s predictive ability. Separate models were developed for primiparous and multiparous animals. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve using the test dataset for multiparous cows was 0.83, sensitivity and specificity were 73% and 80%, positive predictive value (PPV) was 73%, and negative predictive value (NPV) was 80%. The area under the ROC curve using the test dataset for primiparous cows was 0.86, sensitivity and specificity were 71% and 84%, PPV was 77%, and NPV was 80%. We conclude that prepartum behavior can be used to predict cows at risk of metritis, HYK, and mastitis after calving.