CAFRE Development Service - Cafre | Home

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Level II Agricultural Business Operations

What is the objective ... ?

  To produce a

more efficient

dairy animal Milk producers want healthy cows, acceptable yields and cows that are efficient at turning feed into milk. Improving all these factors will help to increase profits  Milk Production = Genetics + Environment

 Main breed: Holstein-Friesian 97% of the UK dairy herd  Other breeds: Ayrshire Jersey Shorthorn } 3% of UK dairy herd  Alternatives: Montbeliarde Fleckvieh Normande Brown Swiss Scandinavian Red MRI/Rotbunt

Yield (Litres) 10,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 High input/High output systems - Limited breeding options - Holstein Friesian with high potential for milk yield Moderate dairying systems - Increased breeding options - Lower merit Holstein with better quality/functional traits - Higher genetic merit Ayrshires/British Friesians - Dual purpose breeds/Crossbreeding Low input/Low output systems - Jersey/Dual purpose breeds - Crossbreeding to maximise non productive traits (fertility/longevity)

Selection of Breeding Stock

Female side  Select replacements from your best cows: ◦ Milk recording ◦ ◦ ◦ Health records Physical characteristics Use heifers for breeding replacements  Slow genetic progress Male side  Faster genetic progress  Select bulls for desired traits: e.g. Milk yield Milk composition Fertility, Longevity, SCC  Consult DairyCo list of available bulls  Check pedigrees to avoid inbreeding

Dairy Proofs

 Where do they come from ... ?

- Parents - Grandparents - Siblings - Genomic testing - Progeny } Milk recording  Milk recording improves reliability of proofs deriving benefit to: - individual farmers - industry as a whole  Reliability of genetic proofs for bulls and cows depends on amount and quality of information used to produce them  Lower reliability proofs more likely to change over time as more information becomes available

 Dependability of bull or cow to pass on their traits to next generation  Test bulls are born with a reliability of 35-40%  Test bulls with first crop daughters completing first lactation have reliability of 80-85%  Genomically tested bulls have reliability of around 60%  Widely used bulls with second crop daughters have reliabilities of up to 99%


 What is it ... ?

Technology that examines the DNA profile of cattle (young bulls) to identify traits that we want to select for    What is the benefit of it ... ?

Identifies animals early in life that are likely to out perform their contemporaries (especially brothers) Increases the reliability of younger test bulls available through AI, shortening the interval by up to 4 years More rapid genetic progress

AI or Natural Service

    Natural Service: Putting all eggs in one basket Limited genetic progress & low reliability (35-40%) Where has he been bred – bull proofs, herd yield?

How long to be kept – breeding on his heifers?

   AI Bulls : Greater reliability of proofs & genetic progress Can select for a range of traits – yield, quality, fertility, etc.

Not limited to one bull – different bulls on different cows.

What are your herd aims:  Milk yield, quality – or both?

 Non production traits – fertility, SCC, longevity?

 Where are you now – herd genetic report?

Farmers’ Breeding Wish List

 Increased Yield  Improved Milk Quality  Reduced SCC/Mastitis  Increased Longevity  Improved Fertility  Reduced Lameness  No Calving Problems … Milk, Fat and Protein kg … Fat and Protein % … SCC, Udders … Lifespan … Fertility Index … Locomotion/Feet & Leg … Calving Ease  All of the above … £PLI Profitable Lifetime Index (£)

Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI)

  Single Financial Figure - summarises all production and health PTA’s into a single financial figure for each individual breed Expressed on a Lifetime Basis - indicates extra margin (£) a bull or cow is expected to pass onto it’s progeny in it’s lifetime  Bulls ranked on £PLI – the top 100 bulls have good productive and non-productive PTAs  Spring Calving Index (£SCI) – alternative ‘across breed index’ first launched in Aug 2014 designed specifically for spring calving herds

Sire Proofs

 Pedigree information  £PLI and PTAs for production traits  PTAs for non production traits  Linear assessment

Predicted Transmitting Ability (PTA)

PTAs for: Milk yield (kg) Fat yield (kg) Protein yield (kg) Fat % Protein % Fertility SCC Lifespan Calving ease - direct - maternal Maintenance (Lwt) Bull PTA = 363

Milk Yield x

Cow PTA = 0 Progeny (heifer) Breeding Value = 363 + 0 = 363 PTA = 182  PTA is genetic merit a parent is predicted to transmit to its’ progeny.

 Progeny’s Breeding Value is sum of PTAs it receives from it’s parents.

 Progeny in turn passes on half it’s Breeding Value (i.e. it’s own PTA) to it’s progeny.

Sire Proofs - £PLI and Production PTAs

Sire Proofs – Non-Production PTAs

     DairyCo proofs provide information on: Fertility Lifespan SCC Calving ease o Direct o Maternal Maintenance

Sire Proofs – Linear Type Traits

 Breed society assessment of dairyness characteristics  Based on appearance of female relations  Composite scores for dairyness, mammary and feet/legs  Udder traits most important and should generally be right of centre

What Should You Focus On ... ?

Irrespective of your system, where possible, select bulls from ...

a) Top 100 ranked bulls on £PLI list (currently £PLI > 380) and: b) Positive for BF% c) Positive for PR% d) Positive for Fertility e) Positive for Lifespan f) Negative for SCC } Specific criteria should be in line with your herd targets Tight selection criteria limits bull choice but will maximise potential genetic gain - avoid inbreeding


 Used in Northern Ireland to introduce hybrid vigour à à à à à Improved cow health Improved lifespan Improved fertility Less mastitis Less calf mortality } Improved functional traits

Dairy Cow Breeding - Summary

 Decide your system and breed for desired improvements e.g.

Increased yield or protein Improved fertility or longevity  Bull or AI – AI enables more refined selection and improves potential genetic gain  Select your best cows  Choose bulls from the top 100 ranked on £PLI  Use team of 3-4 bulls and keep choice simple and effective

Level II Agricultural Business Operations

Key Issues

 How many heifers do I need ... ?

 What age should they be at calving ... ?  Target age and weight at breeding ... ?

 How do you monitor development ... ?

How Many Heifers Do I Need ... ?

    Replacement Rate: Proportion of new heifers/cows entering the herd each year should equal the number leaving Replacement rate in a stable 100-cow herd: e.g. 25 culls = 25 replacements = 25% However, in an expanding herd, replacement rate will be higher to allow for expansion: e.g. 35 replacements in a 100-cow herd = 35% A typical replacement rate in NI ranges from 23–36% and averages 29% (CAFRE Benchmarking)

Heifer Losses

 Replacement rate counts only the heifers introduced to the milking herd.

 Does not count losses along the way ...

 Reason for losses:  Pneumonia/Scour    Infertility Casualties Summer mastitis   Have at least 25% more heifers than you need e.g. If you need 25 heifers replacements you will have to start out with 31 heifer calves or more

How Many Cows Do I Serve ...?

Calculations for a 100-cow herd      25% replacement rate = 25 heifers introduced 25% loss = 6 additional heifers At least 31 heifer calves required Half the calves born will be bulls: 62 calvings Minimum of 62 cows bred to dairy bull Options:  Use sexed semen for first service of maiden heifers  Breed replacements from earlier calving cows

What Age Should They Be At Calving ...?

 Given a similar lifespan, earlier calving heifers have a longer productive life

Benefits of 24 Month Calving

 Reduced costs of heifer rearing period due to earlier calving  Smaller heifers with less liveweight loss in early first lactation  Hence, better fertility in first lactation - greater survival from first to second lactation  More lactations on average - longer productive life  While less milk produced in first lactation, the extra lactation means greater lifetime yield

Target Age At Breeding ... ?

Age at first service (months) 13.5



Age average heifer conceives (months) 15.0



Age at first calving (months) 24.0



Excuses ... ?

 Too small to serve  Smaller heifers can’t compete    Increased management/feeding required Better milk yields from larger heifers Underestimate weights/lack of confidence

Target Weight At Breeding ... ?

 Aim for liveweight of 340-370 kg at first service  Don’t serve heifers less than 330 kg  Heifers should calve at 550-580 kg

Heifer Feed Plans

0 3 6 9 Age (Months) 12 15 Aug-Nov Dec-Feb Mar-Jul 18 21 24 Silage + 2 kg heifer nuts Grass + 1 kg heifer nuts Silage + 2 kg heifer nuts Grass only Silage + 2 kg hfr nuts Grass + 1.5 kg hfr nuts Silage + 2.5 kg heifer nuts Grass + 1.5 kg heifer nuts Silage + 2 kg heifer nuts Straw + 3 kg heifer nuts Straw + 4 kg heifer nuts Grass + 1.5 kg heifer nuts Silage + 2 kg heifer nuts

How Do You Monitor Development ... ?

Serve at 340-370 kg liveweight

Dairy Heifer Replacements - Summary

 To achieve a replacement rate of 25% in a stable herd, at least 30% heifer calves are needed  Calving at 24 months is the most efficient  Serve from 13.5 months at 340-370 kg  Monitor growth regularly using a weighbridge, girth band or wither stick