Livestock Research for Rural Development 34 (11) 2022 LRRD Search LRRD Misssion Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Productive performance of dairy Mambí de Cuba cows in a silvopastoral system

Onel López-Vigoa, Roberto García-López1, Luis Lamela-López, Luis M Fraga-Benítez1, Arelis Hernández-Rodríguez1, Yenny García-Orta1, Tania Sánchez-Santana and Jesús M Iglesias-Gómez

Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes Indio Hatuey, Universidad de Matanzas. Central España Republicana, CP. 44280, Matanzas, Cuba
1 Instituto de Ciencia Animal, Apartado Postal 24, San José de Las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba


The productive performance of dairy Mambí de Cuba cows in a silvopastoral system (SPS) was determined for five years under commercial conditions. One hundred and thirty-six Mambí de Cuba cows, with 1-10 lactations were used. Feeding was based on grazing of Megathyrsus maximus, Leucaena leucocephala foliage, forage complementation in the dry season and low level of concentrate feed. Milk yield on the control day (MYC), milk yield adjusted to 305 days (MY-305) and lactation length (LL) were estimated. The data were analyzed using mixed generalized linear models with the statistical package SAS. The milk production was 10.3-10.5 kg cow-1 day-1. Cows with a calving body condition score (BCS) >3.0 showed higher MYC (10.5-11.1 kg cow-1 day-1) than those with a calving BCS≤2.0 (9.6 kg cow-1 day-1); while cows with a calving BCS=3.0-3.5 had higher MY-305 (3 040.2 kg cow-1 lactation-1) than those with a calving BCS>3.5 (2 545.1 kg cow-1 lactation-1). Both MYC and MY-305 were similar regardless of the calving season of the cows; while LL had a trend to decrease in the rainy calving season (CS-R). It is concluded that the Mambí de Cuba cows, managed in a SPS with M. maximus and L. leucocephala showed acceptable milk production in both seasons of the year, which was affected in cows with a calving BCS<3.0 or >3.5.

Keywords: body condition, Leucaena leucocephala, Megathyrsus maximus, milk yield


The agricultural surface in Cuba is 6 300 200 ha, from which 56,1% (3 537 143 ha) is aimed at animal husbandry. The cattle stock has 3 808 400 animals, from which, 338 700 are cows dedicated to milk production, with a lactation yield of around 1 703.0 kg cow-1; while the annual production volume is 576 900.0 t (ONEI 2019), insufficient to supply the national demand of milk and dairy products, which exceeds one million tons.

This is due to of using systems based only on grasses, mostly natural pastures, with a remarkable seasonality of their yields, depending on climate conditions, and low nutritional value, which prevents supplying the necessary nutrients to the cows for ensuring an adequate milk yield (López et al 2019; Alvarenga et al 2020).

The milk production potential of Mambí de Cuba genotype is close to 13.0-15.0 kg cow-1 day-1 and 3 900.0-4 500.0 kg cow -1 lactation-1; but, at present, it does not exceed 5.4-6.8 kg cow-1 day-1 and 1 400.0-1 800.0 kg cow -1 lactation-1 (Hernández and Ponce de León 2018).

In that sense, it is necessary to search for feeding alternatives that guarantee adequate nutrient supplying to the animals and, thus, achieve suitable daily milk production per cow (Gross 2022). Grazing on SPS could be a viable option (Sarabia-Salgado et al 2020) because they allow to increase biomass production, the improvement of its nutritional quality and, maintaining an adequate productive stability between seasons (Chará et al 2019). For such reasons, the objective of the study was to evaluate the influence of a silvopastoral system on the productive performance of Mambí de Cuba dairy cows.

Materials and methods


The research was conducted under production conditions, for a period of five years, in the grazing area of a commercial dairy farm, belonging to the Genetic Animal Husbandry enterprise of Matanzas-Cuba-, which is geographically located at 22° 58´ 39´´ North latitude and 81° 29´ 55.66´´ West longitude, at 100 m.a.s.l. (Academia de Ciencias de Cuba 1989).

Edaphoclimatic characteristics

The soil, with undulated relief, was classified as Sialitic Brown (Hernández-Jiménez et al. 2015). The climate is tropical warm (Centro del Clima 2018), with annual average temperature and rainfall, in the experimental period, of 24.5 ºC and 1 561 mm, respectively.

Grazing area and management

The grazing area (42.0 ha) was divided into 40 paddocks of approximately 1.1 ha each. As cultivated grass, M. maximus cv. Likoni prevailed; while the tree legume of the system was L. leucocephala cv. Cunninghan, which was planted at a distance of 5 m between rows, and had been established for 10 years at the beginning of this evaluation. The average plant density was 553.0 trees ha-1. During the dry period (February-April) pruning of L. leucocephala plants was applied at a hight of 1.7 m, in an approximately ten trees per occupation day, in the rotations comprised in that period.

Cows grazed 12 hours per day (4:30-12:00 a.m. and 2:30-7:00 p.m.) and 24 paddocks were used (≈ 26.4 ha). Grazing in line was performed (the highest-producing cows followed by the lowest-producing group). In the rainy season (RS) the average occupation period was 1.5-3.5 days. In the dry season (DS) was 4.0-5.0 days. That guaranteed resting periods for the grass of 34.0-38.0 days and 50.0-55.0 days for the RS and DS, respectively. The average stocking rate used in the system was 2.0 LAU ha-1.


One hundred and thirty-six clinically healthy Mambí de Cuba cows, with an age of 5.8 (± 2.63) years, a live weight of 485.7 (± 147.31) kg, and 2.6 (± 2.05) calvings were used.


It was based on pastures provided by the SPS (M. maximus and L. leucocephala foliage). During the DS, complementary roughage was also provided: chopped sugarcane (1.0 kg DM cow-1 day-1) and fresh citrus fruit pulp (1.0 kg DM cow-1 day-1). Low level of concentrate feed (1.5 kg cow-1 day-1) was provided through the year, while mineral salt was supplied ad libitum.

Management of the freshly-calved cow

The calf was kept with the mother the first seven days and, for breeding, it was taken to the calvesʼ pen for artificial rearing. Since the eighth day postpartum the cows were incorporated to mechanized milking, using Alfa Laval equipment, fishbone type with four positions, with volumetric flasks.

Roughage intake

It was monthly done, weighing the feed offered and rejected in the feeding troughs.

Dry matter intake (DMI)

The DMI was estimated according to the equation of NRC (2001):

DMI (kg cow-1 day-1) = (0.372 × LCG + 0.0968 × LW 0.75) × {1 – e [–0.192 × (WOL + 3.67)]}

LW0.75 – Metabolic weight

WOL – Week of lactation

DMI of the SPS forages

After estimating the DMI by the cows, as well as the intake of concentrate feed and roughage measured in feeding troughs, the possible forage intake in the SPS was calculated by difference. For such purpose, it was assumed that pasture represented 85.0% and the L. leucocephala foliage, 15,0%. Table 1 shows the estimated feed intake per cow per day, in the second third of lactation, in each season.

Table 1. Estimated feed intake for the cows (kg DM cow-1 day-1), per season.




M. maximus



L. leucocephala



S. officinarum



Citrus fruit pulp



Concentrate feed



Mineral salt






RS-Rainy season DS-Dry season

Nutrient balance

The nutrient intake was estimated, per season, from the DMI and nutrient content, of the forages of the system, as well as the complementary (citrus fruit pulp and sugarcane forage) and supplementary feedstuffs (concentrate feed). The requirements of crude protein (CP) and metabolizable energy (ME) were estimated, for the productive level expressed in each season according to NRC (2001). The nutritional balance was calculated as the difference between the intake and nutrient requirements of cows.

Body condition score (BCS)

The BCS of the cows was monthly monitored, using a five-point scale, with increases of 0,25 (where 1=squalid and 5=obese; Álvarez 2005). In the case of the calving BCS, the taken value corresponded with the monitoring of the closest moment at occurs such event.

Milk yield (MY)

The MY was individually weighed, on 100% of the lactating cows. This was done twice a day (4:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.), with monthly frequency, throughout the lactation.

MY data

For the study, 2 033 records of MY on the control day (MYC) were used, corresponding to 136 Mambí de Cuba cows, with 1-10 lactations, of which a total of 264 lactations, corresponding to five years of calving, were evaluated. From such records the milk yield adjusted to 305 days (MY-305) and lactation length were calculated.

To adjust mean lactation curve of the herd linear (hyperbolic linear, Ali and Schaeffer, logarithmic quadratic and inverse polynomial) and non-linear functions (incomplete gamma and Wilmink) were used.

Parameters estimation was performed using a nonlinear regression function. For such purpose, the modified Gauss-Newton method, available in the NLIN procedure of SAS, version 9.3 (2013), was used. The data best-fit model was the Ali and Schaeffer function.

For the data analysis, the fixed effects were concentrated by classes. For this, the calving BCS was grouped into three classes: 1 ( calving BCS<3.0), 2 (calving BCS=3.0-3.5), and 3 (calving BCS>3,5); the lactation number (LN) into three classes: 1 (LN=1), 2 (LN=2-3), and 3 (LN≥4); the calving season (CS) into two classes: 1 (CS-D (November-April), and 2 [CS-R (May-October)]; and the calving year (CY) into five classes: 1 (CY1), 2 (CY2), 3 (CY3), 4 (CY4), and 5 (CY5).

Statistical analysis

The assumptions of the analysis of variance were verified for the original variables MYC, MY-305 and LL; therefore, to test the homogeneity of the variance, Levene's test (1960) was used, and for the error normality test, Shapiro and Wilk (1965); thus, it was proven that both assumptions were not fulfilled.

For the analysis of MYC a Mixed Generalized Linear Model was used, with the aid of the GLIMMIX procedure of SAS, where the calving BCS, LN, CS and CY were considered as fixed effects, the animal was considered a random effect and the best-fit function (f(t)), as covariable (Fernández et al 2005). The data were adapted to the following model:

Yijklmn = μ + αi + βj + γk + δ l + am + f(t) + eijklmn


Yijklmn = MYC (kg)

μ = general mean effect

αi = fixed effect of the i-eth calving BCS (i = 1, 2, 3)

βj = fixed effect of the j-eth LN (j = 1, 2, 3)

γk = fixed effect of the k-eth CS (k = 1, 2)

δl = fixed effect of the l-eth CY (l = 1, 2, …5)

am = random effect of the m-eth animal (m=1, 2, …136)

Regression model proposed by Ali and Schaeffer (1987) which was the best-fit one for the milk production data.

t = independent variable corresponding to the control day

eijklmn = normal and independently distributed random error (0 σ e2).

For the analysis of MY-305 and LL a Mixed Generalized Linear Model was used, with the aid of the MIXED and GLIMMIX procedures of SAS, where calving BCS, LN, CS and CY were considered as fixed effects and animal as a random one. The data were adapted to the following model:

Yijklmn = μ + αi + βj + γk + δ l + am + ijklmn


Yijklmn = MY-305 (kg) and LL (days)

μ = general mean effect

αi = fixed effect of the i-eth calving BCS (i = 1, 2, 3)

βj = fixed effect of the j-eth LN (j = 1, 2, 3)

γk = fixed effect of the k-eth CS (k = 1, 2)

δl = fixed effect of the l-eth CY (l = 1, 2, …5)

am = random effect of the m-eth animal (m = 1, 2, …136)

eijklmn = normal and independently distributed random error (0 σ e2)

In both cases, the means were compared through the fixed range test (Kramer 1956). For the data analysis the statistical package SAS version 9.3 (2013) was used. The significant differences among the treatments were declared for p≤0.05 and the differences for 0.05<p≤ 0.10, were considered as a trend to significance.


Table 2 shows that the calving BCS affected the MYC (p˂0.001), with the highest values in the cows with a calving BCS=3.0-3.5 and calving BCS>3.5. In addition, it was observed that the cows with optimum calving BCS (3.0-3.5) had a higher MY-305 (p=0.006) and a longest LL (p=0.002) than those of excessive calving BCS (>3.5); while the cows of low calving BCS (˂3.0) did not differ in LL or in MY-305 with regards to those of optimum or excessive calving BCS.

Table 2. Effect of calving body condition score on productive indicators of the cows.






MYC (kg cow-1 day-1)

9.6b ± 0.13

11.1a ± 0.09

10.5a ± 0.13


MY-305 (kg cow-1 lactation-1)

2 722.6ab ± 134.73

3 040.2a ± 86.24

2 545.1b ± 141.94


LL (days)

248.2ab ± 1.35

261.9a ± 0.94

234.8b ± 1.29


BCS=body condition score; MYC=milk yield on the control day; MY-305=milk yield adjusted to 305 days;
LL=lactation length a, bMeans with different superscripts in the same row differ for p<0.05 (Kramer 1956)

The results of the statistical analysis indicated that the LN had a trend (p<0.080) to the increase of MYC in multiparous cows (LN=2-3 and LN≥4 lactations), compared with primiparous cows (LN=1); however, this condition did not affect the MY-305 or LL (table 3).

Table 3. Effect of lactation number on the productive indicators of Mambí de Cuba cows in a silvopastoral system






MYC (kg cow-1 day-1)

9.5b ± 0.13

11.0a ± 0.09

10.4a ± 0.13


MY-305 (kg cow-1 lactation-1)

2 806.1 ± 116.56

2 836.9 ± 149.20

2 600.0 ± 119.15


LL (days)

253.5 ± 0.92

250.3 ± 1.36

238.8 ± 0.87


LN=lactation number; MYC=milk yield on the control day; MY-305=milk yield adjusted to 305 days;
LL=lactation length; a, b Means with different superscripts in the same row differ for p<0.05 (Kramer 1956)

It was observed (table 4) that the CS did not affect MYC or MY-305; however, a trend was shown (p˂0.091) to decrease the LL of the cows that calved in the RS (243.1 vs 253.1 days).

Table 4. Effect of calving season on productive indicators of the cows.





MYC (kg cow-1 day-1)

10.3 ± 0.09

10.5 ± 0.09


MY-305 (kg cow-1 lactation-1)

2 677.32 ± 102.24

2 861.30 ± 90.83


LL (days)

243.1 ± 0.89

253.1 ± 0.92


CS-R=calving season rainy; CS-D=calving season dry; MYC=milk yield on the control day; MY-305=milk yield adjusted to 305 days; LL=lactation length

Table 5 shows the effect of calving year on productive indicators of the cows in the SPS. The MYC showed differences (p<0.001) among the CYs 1 to 3, with the highest value for CY2 (11.7 kg cow-1 day-1), moderate value for CY3 (10.2 kg cow-1 day-1) and the lowest one in CY1 (8.9 kg cow-1 day -1). In the CYs 4 and 5 the cows showed similar MYC values, with not differences with CYs 2 and 3; in addition, in all the previous CYs the MYC was higher than CY1.

The MY-305 in CY2 was higher (p<0.001) than the one observed in CYs 1 and 5, although it did not differ from that obtained in CYs 3 and 4. Furthermore, CYs 2, 3 and 4 showed a MY-305 higher than 2 900.0 kg cow -1 lactation-1, where CY2 stood out, with 3 189.8 kg cow-1 lactation-1.

The calving year did not influence LL, which was similar for the five studied CYs, with values that were in the range of 239.9-258.2 days.

Table 5. Effect of calving year on the productive indicators of Mambí de Cuba cows in a silvopastoral system.








MYC (kg cow-1 day-1)

8.9c ± 0.16

11.7a ± 0.14

10.2b ± 0.09

10.8ab ± 0.09

10.5ab ± 0.09


MY-305 (kg cow-1 lactation-1)

2 337.9b ± 171.88

3 189.8a ± 169.42

2 932.7ab ± 152.67

2 907.9ab ± 133.74

2 478.3b ± 118.80


LL (days)

242.1 ± 1.32

253.7 ± 1.37

258.2 ± 1.40

247.0 ± 1.35

239.9 ± 0.88


CY1=calving year 1; CY2=calving year 2; CY3=calving year 3; CY4=calving year 4; CY5=calving year 5; MYC=milk yield on the control day;
MY-305=milk yield adjusted to 305 days; LL=lactation length; a, b Means with different superscripts in the same row differ for p<0.05 (Kramer 1956)


Calving body condition score

BCS monitoring is the most practical, least invasive and cheapest existing method to evaluate the body reserves of energy that are deposited or mobilized in a living animal; in turn, it can be applied in different environments, and management and feeding systems (Mandour et al 2015).

In order to obtain an adequate productive performance of the animals, related to their genetic potential, it is necessary that cows achieve an optimum calving BCS, which can differ for the different breeds (Alpízar-Solís and Romero 2017), but in Holstein cows it is in the range 3.0-3.5 (Manzoor et al 2018).

The MYC increased 1.5 kg cow-1 day-1 in the cows with a calving BCS = 3.0-3.5 compared with the MYC of those that had a calving BCS˂3.0. The positive effect of BCS on milk production was predictable (Bell et al 2018), because it has been observed that grazing dairy cows, with an optimum calving BCS, produce more milk than the cows of low calving BCS; although the magnitude of the productive response depends on the feeding system that is used (Roche et al 2015).

In addition, the effect of calving BCS on milk yield is usually more evident as the productive potential of the cow increases (Petrovska and Jonkus 2014). In this sense, the mobilization of body reserves during lactation, which is directly related to calving BCS, allows to satisfy the energy demands that the diet cannot supply (Jasinsky et al 2019); thus, the energy needs will be higher in higher-production animals (Araújo et al 2018).

Low-BCS cows show lower milk yield, due to their minor yielding at peak lactation and the more time they spend to reach the peak milk yield; while an optimum calving BCS has a remarkable effect on increasing daily milk yield and peak milk yield in cows (Manzoor et al 2017).

The MY-305 of the cows with optimum calving BCS (3.0-3.5) exceeded by 495.1 kg cows-1 lactation-1 the one shown by the cows with excessive calving BCS (>3.5). This decrease of MY-305 in the cows with a calving BCS>3.5 was largely related to their lower LL, associated with the effect of excessive BCS on the deterioration of lactation persistency (Mishra et al 2016).

The cows with excessive calving BCS reduce their DMI, at the beginning of lactation (Singh et al 2020; Strączek et al 2021), with the subsequent decrease in the availability of nutrients by the animal. This, in turn, causes higher BCS losses after calving (Paul et al 2019), and prolongs the negative energy balance (NEB) period, which affects the productive yield of the cows, due to a lower peak milk yield, and to a poor persistency of lactation (Souissi and Bouraoui 2020).

Thus, the evident effect of calving BCS on the milk production of Mambí de Cuba cows in a SPS reflects the importance of accurately monitoring the nutrient reserves and their mobilization in the peripartum period (Siachos et al 2021) in order to achieve an adequate reproductive efficiency of the herd.

Lactation number

The trend for increasing of MYC in multiparous cows, compared with primiparous ones, could be due to the fact that the former had higher nutrients mobilization, from their body reserves towards the mammary gland (Morales-Piñeyrúa et al 2018), which is less in primiparous cows because they must use part of the nutrients, mainly amino acids and energy, for body growth (NRC 2001).

In this sense, Adrien et al (2012) reported that primiparous cows, under grazing conditions, can show more difficulties to adapt to the beginning of lactation than multiparous cows. This implies that they show more unbalanced endocrine and metabolic profiles, which negatively affects milk production.

On the other hand, dairy cows can show higher potential milk production with the increase of the LN, as consequence of the increase of body size and the development and maturation of the mammary gland, which provides a higher number of secretory cells (Nwosu et al 2019; Marumo et al 2022).

In this regard, Talbi and El Madidi (2018) found, in Holstein cows, an increase of MY-305 with the increase of the LN, until reaching the maximum production in the third lactation. However, Hernández and Ponce de León (2018) reported, for Holstein and its crosses in Cuba (Mambí de Cuba and Siboney de Cuba), in an evaluation period of 32 years (1984-2016), that, in the three genotypes, the highest MY-305 was obtained in the second lactation. This contrasts with the results of this study where a similar MY-305 was observed, regardless of the number of lactations, which could have been due to a higher age of the cows at first calving.

On the other hand, the MY-305 of the cows in this study exceeded by more than 1 000.0 kg cow-1 lactation-1 the results reported by Hernández and Ponce de León (2018), for Mambí de Cuba, in each of the studied lactations. This could have been related to a higher production of feedstuff of a higher nutritional quality in the SPS, compared to the systems based only grasses (Chará et al 2019), even though the animals had a certain level of concentrate feed in the diet.

The fact that LN did not influence the LL coincides with the report by Salamanca and Bentez (2012), in crossbred cows. In addition, the LL of the cows, in this study, was in the range of 238.8-253.5 days, which is slightly lower than the result reported by Hernández and Ponce de León (2018) for this genotype in Cuba (259.6 days).

Calving season

When analyzing the results of the feeding balance of the cows under production, in the second third of lactation (table 6), it was found that, in both seasons, there was an excess of CP in the diet equivalent to 28.8 and 35.2% of the requirements of this nutrient for the RS and DS, respectively. However, the ME had deficit in the RS (3.7% of the requirements), which coincides with the report by López et al (2002), who observed, in first-lactation Mambí de Cuba cows, that the SPS made a CP contribution over the needs of the animals; while the ME was insufficient to cover the requirements of the cows.

However, in the DS the contributions of the diet slightly exceeded the ME requirements of the animals, which could have been influenced by the use of complements feedstuffs such as fresh citrus fruit pulp with adequate ME contribution (de Oliveira et al 2022).

Table 6. Nutrient balance of the cows, per season, in the second third of lactation.



Diet contribution

CP (g cow-1 day-1)

1 727

1 845

ME (MJ cow-1 day-1)



Requirement of the cow

CP (g cow-1 day-1)

1 341

1 365

ME (MJ cow-1 day-1)




CP (g cow-1 day-1)



ME (MJ cow-1 day-1)



Thus, in this study, the factors of nutritional origin that could have limited the MYC were the deficit of ME, mainly in the RS, along with the inability of the animals to achieve a higher DMI (2.68 and 2.81% LW for the RS and DS, respectively), due to the high NDF content of the diet (Dini et al. 2017), which was 60.9 and 55.9% for the RS and DS, respectively.

In that sense, Pino et al (2018) reported that one of the main factors that can affect digestibility is the NDF level of the diet; besides, as its concentration increases in the ration the retention time of the ingesta in the rumen also increases and its passage rate is reduced (Lascano and Heinrichs 2009), which tends to decrease the DMI by the animal (Bargo et al 2003).

The MY-305 of the cows was similar for both calving seasons, which is in correspondence with the report by Hernández and Ponce de León (2018), for this genotype in Cuba; although the values obtained in this study exceeded the ones reported by these authors by 1 164.0 and 1 308.0 kg for the CS-R and CS-D, respectively, which could have been related to a higher forage offer, –which can be up to 330.0% higher than the one observed in a conventional grazing system based on monocultures of tropical grasses–, better selectivity by the animals (Rivera et al 2019), higher DMI (up to 30,0% higher compared with the cows that graze in conventional systems), better nutritional value of pastures (Cuartas et al 2015) and, consequently, higher quality of the diet consumed by the cows in the SPS (Sotelo et al 2017).

On the other hand, the density of L. leucocephala in the system (553 plants ha-1) could guarantee that, in both seasons, the cows grazed under the shade of trees (Oliveira et al 2021), where the interception of direct solar radiation by the crown of trees modifies the performance of microclimate variables, which, in turn, refreshes the environment of the grazing area (Barreto et al 2020; Karvatte Junior et al 2020).

For such reason, the results of this study could have been influenced by the thermal comfort that systems with trees propitiate (Álvarez et al 2021), which amplify the state of well-being in animals (Martins et al 2021), increases the grazing and browsing periods and, subsequently, the DMI (Carnevalli et al 2020), which in turn improve milk production (Estrada-López et al 2018) and the health of cows, mainly in the breeds Bos taurus and their crosses, since they have less tolerance to tropical production conditions.

The results of this study shows that the MY-305 was similar in both CSs, which contradicts the results of previous studies conducted with Mambí de Cuba cows managed in a SPS, where a higher MY-305 was found in the CS-R (Sánchez-Santana et al 2018). According to these authors, this was associated with a higher forage availability and supply for cows in that calving season.

In this study, the DM offer in the RS was 79.5-88.8 kg DM cow-1 day-1 and, in the DS varied between 35.7-39.3 kg DM cow-1 day-1, which means that the pasture supply did not constitute a limitation for the DMI of the cows in any of the two seasons of the year, since it was always over 20.0-30.0 kg DM cow-1 day-1 recommended by Wilkinson et al (2020); and even, in the RS, it exceeded the 40.0-65.0 kg cow-1 day-1 suggested by Dalley et al (2001), so that the animals with higher nutritional requirements could achieve high pasture intake and, therefore, reach an adequate response in milk production.

The trend to decrease the LL of the cows that calved in the CS-R coincides with that reported by Hernández and Ponce de León (2018), for this genotype in Cuba, but with slightly lower values for the current study in 13 and 10 days, for the CS-R and CS-D, respectively.

Calving year

Feed availability and intake, innovation in herd health management, selection of replacement females, and reproductive management may vary among years. Thus, many studies have reported a large fluctuation in production depending on the years and have indicated that the calving year has high influence on the average production per lactation day, lactation length and production per lactation (Talbi and El Madidi 2018).

The increase in MYC in CY2 with regards to CY1 was related to the level of concentrate feed supplementation in CY2, which doubled that offered in CY1 (2.0 vs. 1.0 kg cow-1 day-1). This could also have been influenced by the lower stocking rate used in CY2 (1.3 vs. 1.5 LAU ha-1) and, subsequently, the lower pasture supply of CY2 (50.4 kg cow-1 day-1) compared with CY1 (45.3 kg cow-1 day-1).

The milk production in CY1 coincides with the one reported by Vargas (2008), in Holstein × Zebu crossbred cows, with a feeding system based on grazing of natural pastures (45.5%), Cenchrus purpureus cv. CT-115 (28.0%) and protein bank (19.0%) of L. leucocephala (2 986 plants ha-1) plus Neonotonia wightii, along with cut and carry of sugarcane (S. officinarum), L. leucocephala, C. purpureus cv. CT-169 and CT-115. However, this value is slightly higher than that reported by Madruga et al (2016), in Zebu genotypes with dairy aptitude (8.5 kg cow-1 day-1), which is considered a satisfactory result in tropical production systems.

The MY-305 that was obtained in the CYs 2-4 exceeded in more than 300.0 kg the highest historical average production reported by Hernández and Ponce de León (2018) for this genotype in Cuba (≈ 2 590.0 kg cow-1). For CY1 and CY5, although they did not exceed 2 500.0 kg cow-1, were over 2 330.0 kg cow-1 amount reached by Mambí de Cuba herd in 1987 (Hernández and Ponce de León 2018).

The lactation length of this study was shorter than the one reported by Hernández et al (2011), for the genotype Mambí de Cuba in the period 1981-2006 (287.8 days). A factor that could have incidence on this was the increase of the reproductive efficiency shown by the cows, with an average calving to pregnancy interval of 105 days, which implies that, for that moment of lactation (≈ 250 days in milk), the cows had around 5 months of pregnancy and, from that pregnancy stage the fetus growth increases exponentially (Lu and Bovenhuis 2020).

In this regard, Penasa et al (2016) stated that pregnancy is responsible for a decrease in milk production, specifically after 4 or 5 months of pregnancy, when a significant quantity of nutrients, available in the blood of the cow, is aimed at the growth and maintenance of the developing fetus. This has been preferably ascribed to hormonal changes in the mother’s body during pregnancy. Endocrine changes affect the distribution of energy and proteins with lower priority for milk synthesis, while favoring fetus growth and reposition of body reserves for the later lactation (Loker et al 2009). In addition, they cause higher regression of the mammary gland (Akers 2006), which affects milk production and persistency of lactation.


The Mambí de Cuba cows, managed in the silvopastoral system, showed acceptable milk production for tropical conditions, which was independent from the lactation number and calving season of the cows.

Milk yield on the control day was affected in the animals with calving body condition score greater than 3.0 or less than 3.5 and in those that calved in the calving years 1 and 3.

The calving body condition score of the cows did not affect the milk production adjusted to 305 days, which decreased in the animals that calved in calving years 1 and 5.

Declaration of data availability

The authors declare that the data presented in this study are available by previous request to the corresponding author.

Conflicts of interests

The authors declare that there are no known conflicts of interests associated with this publication.


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