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5 Jan 2024 - NTM Unlocked #4

Different weights for different breeds

In the NTM, we breed for a balanced goal that improves health and reproduction traits, production, efficiency, and functional conformation. This goal ensures an optimal economic outcome.

The weights in NTM are:

Health and Reproduction – 45%

Production and Efficiency – 40%

Conformation and Workability – 15%

The breeding philosophy behind this weight distribution is improving cows’ health and fertility with each new generation while also increasing production. 

The higher weight on health and fertility is due to its increasing importance for dairy farms’ profitability. Keeping cost down per kilogram of milk is just as important for profitability as the production capacity, and good health and fertility greatly contribute to this.

Why do we have different weights for different breeds?

Cattle breeds are different from each other. This means the weight distribution in the breeding goals for VikingHolstein, VikingRed, and VikingJersey is a bit different.

While we want all breeds to develop towards the optimal balanced breeding outcome, it's important to consider their genetic differences and natural, breed-specific tendencies for certain traits.

VikingHolstein has very high production thanks to its breed type and abilities, thus, the weight for improving their Production capability (32%) is lower than for VikingRed (34%).

Since we aim for a balanced breeding outcome, and production is already well-developed for VikingHolstein, it is more important to focus on developing its health traits.

Red breeds are naturally healthier, so we put a lower weight toward improving Health & Reproduction for VikingRed (42%) than for VikingHolstein (49%) and VikingJersey (48%).

VikingJersey are better in reproduction traits – like daughter fertility and calving – so a higher weight (26%) is assigned toward their health traits compared to VikingHolstein’s (19%). This means the focus can be moved to improving health traits.

In terms of Hoof Health, VikingHolstein has the highest weight of all breeds towards improving it. This is because Holsteins are more prone to hoof diseases than Reds and Jerseys.

Conformation & Workability have a lower assigned weight compared to Health and Production. This is similar for all the breeds (VH 13%, VR 15%, VJ 13%) as all their physical traits support efficient milk production equally.

The weight distribution between the three groups – Production & Efficiency, Health & Reproduction, and Conformation & Workability – results from thorough economic calculations. The goal is to ensure maximum profitability for dairy farms.

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