30 August 2002

Holstein types thrive in high input systems

By Richard Allison

HOLSTEIN-TYPE cows are more profitable than Friesians in a high input system, despite having a higher replacement rate, according to recent research.

There has been an increasing use of taller and thinner Holstein type cows in recent years, Geoff Pollott will tell the British Society of Animal Science Dairying conference at Reading on Sept 9. "But there is little data comparing the overall financial performance of both breeds."

In an MDC-funded study there was little difference between Holstein and Friesian type breeds in a low input system.

However, Holsteins had the advantage when concentrate use was increased from 0.20kg/litre to 0.32kg/litre, says Dr Pollott.

"This extra profitability was mainly due to Holsteins being more efficient at converting feed into milk. Friesians tend to convert more energy into body reserves, reducing profitability, even when taking a lower replacement rate into account."

For Friesians to be as profitable, Dr Pollott believes breeders must select on milk production to achieve a similar level of efficiency in higher input systems.

Increasing concentrate use also boosted profitability for both breed types despite increasing overhead costs. One reason is that a high input system allows higher stocking rates to be achieved, boosting profitability/ha, he says. &#42

Cow performance in

high input system

Cow type Holstein Friesian

Milk yield (litres/year) 9419 8085

Concentrate (kg) 3014 2587

Variable cost (£/cow) 662 592

Gross margin (£/cow) 1101 1031

Overheads* (£/cow) 791 768

* Key overheads for 80ha unit with no youngstock

Two Farmer Days will follow the BSAS Reading conference with topics covering many aspects of feeding cows and improving cow longevity through breeding and managing animal health. The first will be held at the Royal Agricultural College, Glos, on Sept 11 (01285-652531) and at Seale Hayne, Devon, the following day (01626-325858). The cost is £50, including lunch.