5 May 1995

Modern cow falls short on milk quantity

CONTINENTAL cross suckler cows, increasing in number compared with the traditional Hereford x Friesian, are showing a marked change in performance within suckler herds.

Results from Grange Research Centre, Co Meath, Eire, show that the "modern" cow does not provide the quantity of milk when compared with the old fashioned breeds.

The Hereford x Friesian yields 12.6kg/day, whereas Continentals can only manage 8.7kg/day. Researchers at the Granges experimental farm found that eight-month-old Hereford x Friesian calves were 26kg heavier on average at weaning than their Continental peers.

But the Continental calves come into their own post weaning. To slaughter daily liveweight gains are 0.1kg better (2%) than the Hereford x Friesian calves. As a result, carcasses are leaner and 10kg heavier. "But the calves are still not making up what they lost to weaning," says Dr Michael Drennan, Granges beef production researcher.

Even though the Continental cross suckler cow is 120kg heavier than the Hereford x Friesian, there is little difference in intake at housing. The extra weight does, however, make the Continental cow more valuable at culling.