Cow rank­ing ser­vice added to HerdPlus pack­age COW launch for milk, data record­ing spring herds

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

“The farmer could run the COW pro­file in sec­onds, and see what cows are ranked as the low­est profit po­ten­tial herd” an­i­mals in the

ICBF and Tea­gasc of­fi­cially launched COW (Cow’s Own Worth) this week.

The COW is a new on­line sup­port tool that in­stantly ranks dairy cows on their ex­pected fu­ture profit po­ten­tial, based on the most up-to-date in­for­ma­tion avail­able. Farm­ers can quickly iden­tify un­der­per­form­ing cows and choose cull can­di­dates, and keep the most prof­itable cows in the herd. This has the po­ten­tial to im­prove herd prof­itabil­ity.

The COW was de­vel­oped by Tea­gasc Moorepark and is now com­mer­cially im­ple­mented by the ICBF, as a new pro­file page avail­able as part of the HerdPlus pack­age.

There is no ad­di­tional cost for this ser­vice. The COW ranks all el­i­gi­ble dairy fe­males within the herd in­stantly.

All cows are ranked from high­est to low­est in ex­pected profit po­ten­tial for the re­main­ing life­time. The COW pro­file will be avail­able through HerdPlus for dairy herds that are spring-calv­ing and cur­rently milk record­ing, with some data record­ing on fer­til­ity and health events (such as in­sem­i­na­tions/nat­u­ral serves or preg­nancy scans, lame­ness and mas­ti­tis).

Why do herds have to meet th­ese cri­te­ria?

>> Spring-calv­ing: the COW ranks cows high­est to low­est for ex­pected profit, by bench mark­ing cows off early spring calv­ing dates. Cows calv­ing later has a sub­stan­tial eco­nomic im­pact in spring calv­ing sys­tems where cows are man­aged to calve at a time to co­in­cide with grass growth.

Au­tumn calv­ing cows can­not be benchmarked off this cur­rent sys­tem, as they will not be dried off at the same time as the spring calv­ing herd.

Milk record­ing: Milk record­ing is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the COW. Milk record­ing pro­vides the COW with the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to ad­just an an­i­mal up or down com­pared to her pedi­gree (some sires pro­duce bet­ter daugh­ters and some pro­duce poorer daugh­ters). SCC also comes from milk record­ing, and will be used to rank the cows ap­pro­pri­ately. Cows with high so­matic cell count and re-oc­cur­ring is­sues will be ranked lower.

Fer­til­ity record­ing: The cur­rent calv­ing date or pre­dicted calv­ing date ac­counts for 18% of the in­ter-an­i­mal vari­abil­ity in COW. Data from calv­ing dates, in­sem­i­na­tions, and preg­nancy di­ag­no­sis are used to rank cows ac­cord­ingly. Cows calv­ing early will be re­warded, while late calv­ing cows will be pe­nalised. Empty cows will be ranked at the end of the pro­file.

Health record­ing: The COW re­ceives so­matic cell count in­for­ma­tion from the milk record­ing re­ports, but other health trait events are not read­ily avail­able. Record­ing mas­ti­tis, lame­ness or other treat­ment events will markedly im­prove the ac­cu­racy and rel­e­vance of the COW for that farm.

Mark for culling: Cows that have al­ready been iden­ti­fied as a culling can­di­dates can be marked for culling, and will au­to­mat­i­cally drop to the end of the list, with other suit­able can­di­dates to be culled. Geno­typ­ing: Geno­typed fe­males will have a more ac­cu­rate COW, due to bet­ter pre­dic­tions of the true ge­netic merit of the an­i­mal.

It also pro­vides cer­tainty of parent­age and cor­rec­tion of po­ten­tial pedi­gree er­rors.

Why use COW?

>> Farm­ers make sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in data record­ing (such as calf reg­is­tra­tions, milk record­ing, in­sem­i­na­tions, preg­nancy di­ag­no­sis and geno­typ­ing), but as­sem­bling all th­ese data sources into one value per an­i­mal is the key to aid de­ci­sion mak­ing. The farmer could choose to gather each in­di­vid­ual re­port on each cow’s milk per­for­mance, fer­til­ity per­for­mance, ge­netic merit etc, and make culling de­ci­sions from th­ese sources. Or, the farmer could run the COW pro­file in sec­onds, and see what cows are ranked as the low­est profit po­ten­tial an­i­mals within the herd, based on mul­ti­ple sources of in­for­ma­tion.

The COW is de­signed to aid dairy farm­ers in mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions on dairy fe­males for culling and re­ten­tion.

The COW con­sid­ers the dairy fe­male’s ge­netic merit (es­ti­mated breed­ing val­ues and hy­brid vigour), age of the cow, milk per­for­mance, health per­for­mance, the most re­cent calv­ing date, and pre­dicted calv­ing date from avail­able in­sem­i­na­tions or preg­nancy di­ag­no­sis, and more. This man­age­ment tool aims to re­duce the time, ef­fort and re­sources farm­ers spend on culling and re­ten­tion de­ci­sions, while get­ting more value from their data record­ing strate­gies.

What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the EBI and COW?

>> The EBI iden­ti­fies the most prof­itable males and fe­males for breed­ing dairy re­place­ments. The EBI uses ge­netic in­for­ma­tion that can be passed on from par­ent to off­spring. The COW is for fe­males only, and aids in culling de­ci­sions. COW uses mul­ti­ple sources of in­for­ma­tion (such as en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects, age, calv­ing dates) that do not get trans­mit­ted from par­ent to off­spring, and there­fore do not need to be in­cluded in the EBI. ICBF and Tea­gasc thank ev­ery­one who has helped to progress the COW to this stage, and very much look for­ward to the successful roll­out of this sup­port tool.

How do you de­cide which cows to cull or keep? Farm­ers who make good use of ICBF’s Herdplus can be guided by in­stant rank­ing of cows, by the new COW sup­port tool.

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