Herd improvement using breeding goals reasons for culling

As soon as a farmer defines the breeding goal, the four main reasons for culling on the farm should be closely examined. Taking a targeted approach to resolving the main reasons for culling already signifies an important step towards herd improvement.

KI SAMEN koe kijkt naar de stal vanuit de wei

Studies conducted worldwide reveal the most common reasons for culling cows. The four main factors behind culling are fertility, hoof health (legs), udder health and poor production.

Why is culling necessary? What can we do to reduce culling?

The breeding programme of K.I. SAMEN ensures that cows reach a high age with ease. We will look at each culling reason individually and explain how this trait is weighted in our breeding programme.

1. Fertility

Fertility – the reproductive performance of a cow – is extremely important. If the cow is unable to become
pregnant, her useful life comes to an end. The ways in which cows become pregnant differ widely. Some cows come into heat and become pregnant quickly, others have more difficulty. There are various ways to express fertility. K.I. SAMEN looks at the pregnancy rate after insemination. It is important that the cow becomes pregnant at the time the farmer wants. The farmer decides when the cow should calve again and we breed cows able to realise that goal.

2. Hoof health (legs)

Strong, healthy feet and legs are vital for correct locomotion. Good claws mean there is even pressure distribution on the inner and outer claw. Uneven pressure distribution causes the cow to become splayfooted. The cow’s feet toe out away from each other and too much pressure is exerted on the inner claw. A good leg and claw position is determined by the build of the rump which in turn is related to the legs.

“A cow’s build is the foundation of her successful career as

 a dairy and brood cow.”

3. Udder health

Udder health or the somatic cell count is extremely important as each cow is milked two, three or more times a day. Udder inflammation and disorders must be prevented as much as possible. The somatic cell count is a trait with a higher heritability. In other words, it is easy to breed and make progress by focusing on the somatic cell count. However, the way the herd is housed is and remains the main cause behind potential issues with the somatic cell count.

4. Production

Poor milk production of cows can lead to culling, but is no longer often the case. All farmers naturally want more productive cows, in combination with fewer problems. Most cows show a significant increase in milk production over the lactations. This should be accompanied by a somatic cell count that does not get worse, and better still a SCC that improves. This indicates that the cow has matured in a correct and healthy way and that she can produce more milk easily and without any problems.

A good combination is better than
counting high numbers

A cow’s build is the foundation of her successful career as a dairy and brood cow. A well-built cow lives longer and can therefore produce more milk with ease leading to better profitability. The breeding programme of K.I. SAMEN aims to breed better cows in practice. Its breeding strategy is designed to improve the basic conditions necessary to create a profitable dairy farm. Practical proven breeding!