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Stackyard News Mar 2012

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Dairy Breed Averages Show U-Turn on Key Parameters

NMR’s Annual Production Report for the year ending September 2011 has been published this week and shows that overall annual average somatic cell count and calving interval has dropped for the first time in a decade.


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NMR’s records, which take account of 60% of the British dairy cow population, show that production in nearly all breeds has increased.

Dominated by the Holstein, which represents 85.2% of all NMR recorded herds, this breed is the only one to show increases in milk yield and protein percentage, and a reduction in fat percentage, calving interval and somatic cell count. The Holstein now has an average milk production of 8,623kg, up 191kg from 2009/10. Fat percentage has fallen while protein percentage has increased – both by 0.01. Average SCC is now 204,000cells/ml, down by 2,000cells/ml and calving interval has dropped by five days to 423 days.

The Jersey, Ayrshire and British Friesian breeds, that each represent 1%t or more of NMR recorded herds, have all seen increases in milk yield but also in SCC, while calving intervals have dropped.

Average milk yield for the Jersey breed increased by 103kg to 5,847kg. Fat percentage dropped by 0.05 to 5.16%, and protein remained at 3.80%. SCC in the Jerseys increased by 9,000cells/ml to 194,000cells/ml but calving interval dropped by six days to 405 days.

The Ayrshires followed a similar trend to the Jerseys with an increase of 242kg in milk to 6,882kg with fat at 4.02% and protein at 3.29%. SCC’s increased by 4,000cells/ml to 179,000cells/ml and calving interval dropped by nine days to 409 days.

Very little change was recorded in the Friesian breed. Average yield has increased by 52kg in the 12 months to 6,824kg at 4.04% fat and 3.31% protein. The SCC average is now 179,000cells/ml and the calving interval has dropped by a day to 401 days.

Of the other breeds, which represent between 1% and 0.5% of NMR’s recorded herds and include the Shorthorn, Guernsey, Brown Swiss and Montbeliarde, all saw an increase in milk yield in the 2010/11 year compared with the previous year. The Shorthorns reduced calving interval by three days and, at 394 days, they have the lowest interval of all the main dairy breeds with the Montbeliarde’s recording the lowest average SCC at 176,000cells/ml.

“This latest report shows up encouraging trends in key parameters,” says NMR’s Jonathan Davies. “Producers are reaping the benefits of improved records and tailoring management to meet production, cow health and welfare goals. And the reduction in calving interval almost across the board will contribute to an increase in the all important value of milk sold per cow per year. For most producers this is a good indicator of efficiency.”

A full list of breed averages for NMR recorded herds for the past 10 years is available on the NMR web site

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