Decision making

Traits to consider when buying a Dairy cow.

While it is true you can mint millions selling milk produced by your dairy animals, farmers fail to attain this lack of good planning at the foundation level. At the very core of any good dairy farming, breed selection and subsequent animal husbandry are of paramount importance.

There are many traits to consider when buying a Dairy cow. However, Milk production is a factor of the generic make up and the environment like housing, feed and health management.

Photo /courtesy

It is important to consider the following factors before deciding on the dairy cow to purchase.

1.Production traits

These traits refer to milk volume and the contents ie percentage of butterfat level, protein and other non-fat solids. Milk volume should be considered relative to amount of feeds consumed since more produce from relatively lesser fodder is proof of a high feed conversion efficiency. More solid in milk generally increase the quality.

2.Conformation traits

These traits give an indication of the performance of the dairy animals and include the udder structure, nature of feet or legs, and general dairy character.

The udder should be pliable, silky in texture, sack like in nature and non pendulous but firmly attached with strong suspensory ligaments high up the vulva region. A huge udder is not necessarily a sign of high milk production. The teats should be average sized and evenly placed and pointing straight down on the udder.

Good feet and strong legs lead to longevity of a Dairy cow and facilitates it to be able to feed comfortably especially when in-calf.

Observed from the behind, a Dairy cow’s hind legs should stand straight and wide apart while the side view should show a slightly set back sickled ending with slightly angled feet.

3.Fertility traits

The number of inseminations per conception will always determine the success of a breeding programme. The fewer the inseminations per conception, the better the fertility of a particular.

4.Longevity traits

This determine the amount of total lifetime milk production of a cow but it is usually influenced greatly by other traits such as health and fertility. Choose heifers or bull semen from families with a history of cows that can maintain high production ability across many lactations as well as have as many normal calvings as possible in their lifetime.

5.Health traits

Emphasis should be laid on choosing disease resistant and Hardy animals to remain in production for long.

6.Calving ease traits

Physical traits that facilitate easy calving include a wide pelvic diameter and a gentle slope from pin to hip bone. A cow’s body frame should portray a strong straight back or loin which is essential during gestation in enabling the animal to comfortably feed as well as carry the foetus to term.

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