Analysis of Lifetime Performance and Culling Reasons in Black-and-White Holstein-Friesian Cows Compared with Crossbreds

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Abstract

The effect of crossbreeding Holstein-Friesian cows with other breeds is usually improved genetic potential of crossbreds in terms of longevity. However, culling decisions, which in practice determine the longevity in dairy cows, are contingent on many environmental and economic factors. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate longevity in relation to culling reasons in Holstein-Friesian cows of the Black-and-White strain (HO) and crossbreds, taking genotype, age at first calving, herd size, culling season, culling reason and milking temperament into consideration. The data analysed concerned 154,256 dairy cows culled in Poland in 2015. It was found that all studied factors significantly affected cow lifetime performance. The mean age at culling in dairy cows of HO strain exceeded 6 years, with mean lifetime energy-corrected milk (LECM) yield of 28,933 kg and mean lifetime energy-corrected milk yield per milking day (DECM) of 20.2 kg. Crossbreds, on the other hand, tended to have shorter lifespans, with mean LECM yield amounting to less than 25,000 kg. Mean LECM yield of cows surviving for the longest period (9.2 years), amounted to 47,771 kg, and reproduction problems were unquestionably the most common (40%) reason for cows’ culling. A suggestion was made to take milking temperament into account in breeding practice, as this trait proves to be closely related to the longevity characteristics of dairy cows. It was also proposed that the culling reasons be subjected to a more comprehensive analysis, considering the “life history” of cows as well as the interactions between different reasons for their removal from the herd.

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