Analysis of the performance of cows in the herd of producer Troels Bjørn located in Hobro, Denmark shows that using breeding indexes for health and efficiency pays off. Leading cows on the Better Life Efficiency index, developed by breeding organisation CRV, produced over 1,500kg more milk compared to their herd mates. The top cows for the Better Life Health index were significantly healthier. They showed less cases of mastitis, a lower somatic cell count and a shorter calving interval.
Breeding for improved health and efficiency works. This is shown by an analysis of the performance of the cows in Troels Bjørn’s herd, where an extensive cattle registration system has been maintained. As a result, not only have all the production figures and fertility results been recorded, but also all the data on udder and hoof health from a total of over 700 cows.
Breeding index boosts milk production
In order to show the effect of breeding on efficiency, the cows in the data set are divided into groups with a high and a low genetic inheritance on the Better Life Efficiency index (BLE). The top 25% of the herd for the index (+4.6% BLE) produced on average (lactation 1-3) 1,520kg of milk and 47kg of fat and 49kg of protein more than the lowest group (-2.3% BLE).
Breeding for better health pays off
A similar analysis has been made for the CRV index Better Life Health (BLH). The difference between the bottom and top 25% of cows in the herd was 4.1%. This difference results in 31% fewer cases of mastitis and a cell count that is almost 54,000 cells/ml lower for the group with the highest score for Better Life Health.
A similar effect was found on hoof health with 22% fewer cases of digital dermatitis registered. In terms of fertility: the calving interval was 20 days shorter in the top 25%.
Health and efficiency foundation for profit
Troels Bjørn is convinced that breeding is absolutely key to achieving good herd productivity.
“A healthy and highly productive herd is the foundation for an efficient and profitable dairy business. Cows that easily achieve high lifetime production are efficient. They are more economical to manage because they require little labour and convert more feed into milk,” says Troels.