13 February 1998

BETTER HERDLIFE NEEDS

GOOD FUNCTIONAL TRAITS

BREEDING for cows that will last for a long time does not mean compromising on production.

Longevity requires cows with good wearing udders, feet and legs, says the Holstein Friesian Societys Dave Hewitt. The size of the animal is irrelevant, he adds.

"Final class is a major indicator of longevity, and the main areas considered during classification are legs and feet, and mammary system."

HFS classified 100,000 animals in 1997, 64,000 of these were heifers. Because when heifers are classified the whole herd heifer population is classified, the results give a fair indicator of the genetic pool, says Mr Hewitt.

That genetic pool also shows that higher type animals produce more milk, but milk constituent percentages will be slightly lower.

Heifers classified Very Good with 85 to 89 final class points from the 25,000 heifers that have completed lactation records average £46 ITEM, with production proofs showing 439kg milk, 12.7kg fat and 11.9kg protein. These VG heifers averaged 8255kg of milk.

Good Plus heifers with final class 80-84 points averaged £38 ITEM and produced 7162kg of milk. Good heifers, 75-79 final class, average £33 ITEM, Fair heifers, 66-74 final class and £30 ITEM and Poor heifers, below 65 final class, are £27 ITEM, with 254kg milk, 8.1kg fat and 7.8kg protein, and yielded just 5511kg.

CULLING FACTS

&#8226 24% of cows culled.

&#8226 Best herds culling 17.5%, worst 29%.

&#8226 54% of cows culled before ending their fourth lactation.

% of 1990-92 culls for:

&#8226 Infertility and reproduction 36.5% (9% of total herd).

&#8226 Management policy 11.5%.

&#8226 Mastitis 10.1%.

&#8226 Lameness 5.6%.

&#8226 Multiple reasons 12.6%.

&#8226 Other, including BSE 7.4%.

Source: DAISY report 4, Wastage in Dairy herds – information collected from 50 dairy herds 1990-92