To evaluate the genetic merit of dairy bulls

Dairy herds consist of lactating and dry (non-lactating) cows, replacement heifers of all ages and often a few dairy bulls. In large commercial dairy herds cows and heifers are mostly artificially inseminated (AI) with semen supplied by semen (or AI) companies. However, because it is sometimes difficult to get some cows (and heifers) pregnant through…

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To cull cows early or not?

There seems to be a common perception among some local dairy farmers that cows may be culled earlier than their expected production lifespan when using high genetic merit bulls. This implies that daughters from such bulls would in first lactation produce more milk than older cows. In some herds cows are therefore culled after they…

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The essence of dairy farming is the ongoing process of cows calving down once every year. Cows must calve down to start a new lactation period to produce milk. Cows are dried off about 50-60 days before the next expected calving date. Herd milk income increases when calving intervals (CI) of cows range between 12-13…

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Dairy breeds in South Africa originated in the British Isles and Western Europe. These countries have a cool to cold climate. In comparison, in South Africa, it is much warmer and drier with more sunshine hours because of less cloud cover. Dairy cows are well adapted to a cold climate, making them sensitive to hot…

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Genetic progress in dairy herds is affected by sire selection. However, despite careful selection procedures, female progeny of selected sires produce at higher, similar or lower production levels than their mothers. This is because of the random combination of genes and the varying effect of environmental factors on the production performance of dairy cows. Dairy…

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Recently, on social media, the size of dairy cows was discussed among dairy farmers. Most held the opinion that there are advantages to cows being smaller. It was suggested that smaller cows, on a daily basis, consumed less feed and had lower maintenance requirements than larger cows. However, while these opinions are technically correct, little…

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Om koeie te koop

Om die regte koeie te koop is moeiliker as wat baie mense dink. Die aankoopplek, finansiële vermoë van die koper en redes waarom koeie verkoop word dra alles by tot die gehalte van diere wat gekoop word. Daar is ook verskeie risiko’s met die aankoop van koeie. Dit geld vir beide die koper as vir…

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Adding value to a dairy herd

Dairy farmers are always looking at ways to increase the value of their herds. The management style has a major effect on the value of cows, heifers and their combined output. Although some farmers may be good at producing feeds; such as growing pastures, making hay or silage, some do not apply good animal management.…

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Replacement heifers

Dairy farmers always aim to reduce the production cost of milk to increase profit margins. Heifer rearing is a direct cost and produces no immediate income; therefore, efforts are made to reduce this cost. However, heifer rearing is an integral part of a dairy herd and cost saving efforts should not reduce their future production…

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Including live weight in cow selection

The genetic merit of a dairy herd depends on the average breeding value of the group of bulls selected annually to service cows and heifers. Sire selection is usually based on a varying emphasis of conformation and production traits. In the USA, currently, more than 40 traits in dairy cows are being measured and genetic…

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