In recent decades, the average cow on many dairy farms around the world has increased in size. And some farmers have realized that their cattle have become too large to be efficient.
It is a global trend. Dairy farmers using Holsteins have started to select smaller bulls for the next generation of milking cows. Claus Langdahl, Senior Breeding Manager for VikingHolstein explains that there are plenty of positive correlations with a smaller cow, which is also a more efficient animal.
“Farmers are demanding a smaller cow for many practical reasons, such as to avoid issues in the barn or milking parlor”, Langdahl says.
Too big to be efficient
Some farmers who used to select traits to boost production, without paying attention to the health traits, have now realized that their cattle have become too large to be efficient. The race now is to get back to a moderate frame size with cows that are more efficient.
“The cow size is a relevant element to consider for a farmer since it is an indicator of biological and economic efficiency. Cows that are more moderate in size are more efficient overall”, he adds.
Claus Langdahl explains that indexes as:
- female fertility
- calving direct
- calving maternal
- udder health
- other diseases
- feet and legs
and young stock survival has a positive correlation to the Saved feed index. This index is related to a smaller and more efficient cow.