When dairy farmer, Aidan Deasy, challenged his breeding advisor to produce a cow for his system, he thought he was asking the impossible. He knew exactly the traits in the animal he did and didn’t want and the problems he needed to avoid.
Like many producers, he’d had enough of lameness, was tired of disappointing pregnancy checks, and was keen to cut down on metabolic disorders like ketosis and milk fever. In short, he said he wanted to breed ‘the invisible cow’.
Milking 180 head on the family farm near the city of Cork in the Irish Republic, he describes the cow he sought for his grazing-based system.
“We wanted cows you don’t see - cows that are inseminated, calve and are dried off and you don’t need to see them in between.”
To achieve this, he sought strong hooves, better fertility, improved teat placement and increased milking speeds – amongst a range of other traits.
“I set a target I thought was unattainable,” he admits. “Especially since I wanted all of this, without any drop in milk solids.”