‘Cross breeding can improve dairy cow welfare’

Cross breeding can help address animal welfare concerns from both a financial and ethical perspective.

This is one of the conclusions reached by Morrisons in their report looking at the role of cross breeding in UK dairy herds.

Cross breeding has been identified by the dairy industry as an area requiring further investigation and information to help address current concerns on welfare, said David Evans, Morrison’s head of agriculture.

Completed as part of the company’s Farm Programme, Morrisons worked with Arla, commissioned dairy breeding expert, Wes Bluhm and studied research from the USA, New Zealand and Europe.

The report showed a reduction in welfare problems linked to reduced longevity and reproductive performance in some herds as a result of cross breeding.

The document also concluded cross breeding could improve survivability, increasing potential for heifer sales and reducing requirement for replacements.

Cross breeding could also provide the opportunity to increase calf income and the solids content in milk, it said.

“It’s the first time anyone in the UK has undertaken a detailed review of what’s a contentious area for a lot of dairy farmers,” said Mr Evans.

“We felt it was important to look at what’s happening around the world as far as dairy genetics and overall herd management and present that information to farmers.

“There are no easy answers and it’s up to individuals to weigh up the pros and cons to evaluate whether or no it would help them improve herd efficiency and profitability.”

The full report is available to download at www.afmp.co.uk