Long Live Those Dairy Cows!

John DavisBreeds, dairy farming

Research in Texas is looking into the relationship between the breed of dairy cows and the longevity of the herd.

This article from Texas AgriLife (and this story from the USDA’s Rod Bain) talks about how researcher Dr. Pablo Pinedo, AgriLife Research ruminant animal health scientist in Amarillo, is conducting a year-long study funded by the American Jersey Cattle Club Research Foundation looking into the declining longevity of dairy cattle:

“Today’s high involuntary culling rates are a concern on dairy farms from both an animal well-being and an economic point of view,” Pinedo said.

While Holstein herds have been predominant in Texas and New Mexico, large cheese-processing plants in the northern Texas Panhandle and in Eastern New Mexico have prompted the use of Jersey genetics, increasing the number of large, pure Jersey and multi-breed herds in those areas, he said.

In his study, Pinedo intends to use Jersey, Holstein and crossbred cattle all under the same conditions in the same operations to provide what he characterized as “a unique opportunity to analyze and compare the dynamic of culling in different breeds.”

Pinedo hopes his work will give a better understanding into the dynamics of culling risk of Jersey cows considering age, stage of lactation, milk yield, reproductive status, herd milk yield and herd size, as well as looking at associations between culling dynamics and some breed traits. In addition, he’ll be comparing the productive lives of Jerseys, Holsteins and their cross-breeds and identifying management-related risk factors throughout the Texas High Plains region.

“We hope our results will help dairy producers implement efficient strategies to manage critical points affecting cow survival,” he said. “This information will also provide a precise comparison on the productive life between Jerseys and Holsteins under the same conditions, supporting the decisions process regarding the future replacements.”