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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #16

How to breed a healthier herd

The General health index covers many transition disorders in dairy cattle – like milk fever, metritis, and ketosis. These disorders can cost a lot of time, money, and productivity, but fortunately, they can be prevented with the right genetics.

Studies show that 75% of disease cases in dairy cows occur in the first 30 days in milk. These transition disorders can significantly impact your bottom line, so preventing them through genetics will help reduce many post-calving issues.

But have you ever wondered what improvements in health you could get by using bulls with high breeding values for General health sub-indices?

VikingHolstein cow

Breed for better health

Let’s consider one of the most common metabolic diseases – ketosis.

A daughter of a bull with an estimated breeding value (EBV) of 120 in Ketosis will have fewer ketosis cases than a daughter of a bull with 100 EBV, which is the breed average.

For VikingHolstein, this will mean an 18% decrease in cases of ketosis relative to the average.

What does this mean in real life? Let’s take an example of two farms with Holstein cows:

  • Farm A has 500 cows, of which 2% experience ketosis each year = 10 cases. 
  • Farm B has 500 cows, of which 10% experience ketosis each year = 50 cases.

A bull with EBV 120 for the Ketosis sub-trait can reduce the disease frequency so that farm A will go from 10 to 8 cases of ketosis per year and farm B from 50 to 41.

This also applies to other issues, such as early reproductive disorders, where an EBV 120 for this sub-trait will mean 28% fewer cases compared to the VikingHolstein average.

If you struggle with a high level of diseases in the transition period, choose the bulls with a high EBV for the General health index to enhance the transition health of your herd.

The General health index in NTM gives you a comprehensive breakdown of cattle health, covering more than 80 diagnoses.

Find the best bulls for your herd
General health index NTM

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