Real World data proves - Heifers with high NTM are healthier as cows

The Nordic Cattle Genetic Evaluation (NAV) conducted the study to investigate the difference in health between heifers with high and low NTM (Nordic Total Merit).

All Danish Holstein herds with more than 150 cows, 442 herd in total, were included in the analysis. To provide a fair comparison, the cows were divided into three groups for each herd based on their NTM as heifers. When a heifer receives her NTM, it is based on pedigree information only. When she begins her first lactation, additional information from her own performance contributes to the NTM. 

Within each herd, the average level of different diseases was calculated in each of the three NTM groups. The differences between the groups with the highest and lowest NTM in each herd were then calculated. Finally, all the differences were combined into a group average across herds. The analysis was conducted to investigate if heifers with the highest NTM, actually had less diseases as cows, compared to those with the lowest NTM.

Differences between highest and lowest NTM groups, for Holstein cows in the first lactation compared to the breed population average for the first three lactations
The mastitis incidences were reduced in the highest NTM. In the first lactation, cows in the highest NTM group had 5%-units less mastitis compared to cows from the lowest NTM group. If we compare that results to breed population average for VikingHolstein for the first three lactations (12% for VikingHolstein), the highest NTM group had 42% less mastitis. Highest NTM group had a reduction in metabolic disorders – 20% less compared to population average. For early reproductive disorders – 41% less. 

It should be taken into account that the high NTM group also has a higher yield than the low NTM group, which increases the risk of mastitis and other diseases. Therefore, the differences seen are even more impressive. This analysis confirmed that heifers with a high NTM index are healthier as cows, compared to heifers with a low NTM index. 

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