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Buncolby February 21st, 2009 21:23

Dairy Cattle Breeding, genetics and traits
I have an assignment for my degree course at University that focuses on Dairy cattle and the genetics behind breeding them and maximising profit and welfare. The Question states "Discuss the ways in which you could make use of names phenotypic and performance traits on a dairy farm to maximise both profit and welfare."
The main area I am struggling with is writing a breeding programme, I dont know where to start or what to include, also how to measure the genetic gain. I suppose the main one would be milk yields, but how would you measure improvements in lameness etc.?
Are there any dairy farmers, or cattle farmers in general, that have experience of this and could advise me!?! I can probably just about find the welfare side, ish, but I dont know how to make it profitable!
Thanks for your time.

happyheifer April 19th, 2009 00:21

Hi Katie,

Almost certainly too late to respond but will do so anyway incase there is anyone else interested.

Milk yield is an indicator of genetic gain but that itself is dependent on some other aspects namely:
- volume of the chest cavity - a broad rib cage means the cow can eat more kg of feed in a day and therefore has the potential to produce more milk
- height of the cow . As above; a larger animal can eat more in a day and if fed correctly, produce a greater volume of milk
-width of pins and rear legs. Ease of calving (the less traumatic the birth of the calf, the less likelihood of infections like metritis which can suppress milk yields). Rear leg width is more for ease of milking and also for reduced damage to the udder while walking and standing
-rump angle. You want a rump which angles downward toward the back of the animal so that the cow can clean sufficiently after calving. It also means she is less likely to introduce fecal matter into her reproductive tract creating suppressed reproductive performance through infections
- shape of udder and strength of udder attachments (ligaments)
a high (hock level or higher) udder with evenly spaced teats means all quarters are more likely to be milked out (teat size is also a factor in this) and less likey to get infections like mastitis which reduces milk yield
-temperament!! this is for the longevity of the cow in the herd (as are the factors above). Not often thought about in terms of genetic gain for a layman, but you dont want a herd full of cows who are going to kick the cups off and the person cupping them on!

For more information, look up somebody like ABS. They will give a comprehensive list of traits which can be improved upon.

Hope somebody finds this useful!!

ConradMccar November 27th, 2012 07:42

volume of the chest cavity - a broad rib cage means the cow can eat more kg of feed in a day and therefore has the potential to produce more milk

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Callum August 28th, 2013 06:02

Buncolby dude we don't know the standard you want for this question.It's a matter for degree so that i will prefer you to search on google. On search engine you surely find some good books on this topic and you will find better answer.

Aldan55 September 10th, 2013 04:18

By comparison, Brown Swiss cows are probably the most docile-nature dairy cow that any dairy farmer or hobby farmer could ever have. Holsteins tend to be a bit nervous, and Jerseys can be notorious kickers.

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