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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #1

What is the Nordic Total Merit Index?

Did you know that NTM is one of the world’s most progressive breeding value systems?

The Nordic Total Merit Index (NTM) is a combined index of different genetic traits heritable by mating bulls with cows. It aims to develop cattle’s “genetic capital” to increase herd profitability and functionality. This is achieved by breeding new generations of cows capable, for example, producing more kilos of milk fat and protein and having better disease resistance.

NTM comprises more than 90 sub-traits combined into 15 main ones.

Different combined indices weight traits differently depending on the breeding goal. Some emphasise cows’ conformation (Frame, Udder, Feet and Legs), others focus on production (i.e., how much milk the cow produces), and some target health traits (e.g., resistance to hoof and udder diseases).

A balanced approach

NTM uses a balanced approach – it focuses on breeding to improve health and reproduction traits, production, efficiency, and functional conformation. The goal? To improve profitability in dairy herds.

The weight distribution in NTM is supported by the Nordic breeding goal of improving cattle health with each generation while increasing production. Weights also vary slightly according to the breed.

Weights in NTM:

Health and Reproduction – 45%

Production and Efficiency – 40%

Conformation and Workability – 15%

Health trait heritability is much lower than production traits, meaning we have to put more weight on breeding for health traits to ensure a balanced outcome.

NTM = profitability

So why does NTM boost profits? It’s as simple as healthy cows have longer lifespans and cost less.

This means that with NTM, you will always be breeding profitable cows, thanks to a combination of higher productivity, better health, and good functional conformation.

To make it as straightforward as possible, let’s put it in numbers:

On average, a Holstein heifer with 10 NTM units more than another heifer will produce an extra 250 € in lifetime profits over her inferior counterpart.

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