10 July 1998

Repeat breeders principal cause of dairy cow culling

By Jessica Buss

MORE dairy cows are culled because they are repeat breeders than for any other single reason, according to the preliminary findings of a Kingshay Farming Trust study revealed at the show.

The MDC-funded study, involving 1100 dairy farms, has recorded 22,000 culls since it began last Nov, 3000 of which were BSE cohorts.

Excluding the cohorts, that indicates an average annual replacement rate of 27%, said Kingshays Sam Gayton. The results support NMR data that says cows last an average of just 3.6 lactations in the herd.

The main reason for culling was repeat breeding at 10.6% of culls, with mastitis, low yield, high cell count and lameness the other main reasons for culling. About 25% of all culls were for fertility related reasons, he added.

Kingshay has received completed management and feeding questionnaires from 1000 of the farms in the study, which will allow culling to be related to management and feeding practices, said Mr Gayton.

"This will allow us to look at the differences between forced and elected culls."

Producers should focus on reducing forced culls leaving the herd because of infertility, mastitis and lameness, he added.