Poor fertility is one of the most common reasons for culling in dairy herds in the Nordic countries. Valuable data regarding the farmer’s decision to cull cows of all dairy breeds clearly shows this. It is probably the same story all over the world, thus underlining the need for keeping a full focus on improving female fertility together with achieving progress in production.
When discussing culling, we need to make a distinction between two groups:
- Voluntary culling
- Involuntary culling
Voluntary culling is when the farmer is in a situation to select which of his animals to cull. For example this could be when he thinks the cow is not producing enough. Involuntary culling is when the farmer is forced to cull the cow because it is too costly to keep her, such as when she has chronic mastitis or poor fertility leading to excessively long calving intervals and low production.
See below for the five most common culling reasons in VikingGenetics home markets. For Holstein poor fertility is the most frequent reason for culling and accounts for 21.6% of all registrations. When culling is related to poor fertility, it is always involuntary. Second highest reason is udder disease (16.0%) and then the voluntary culling reason of “low yield” (15.5%)
For Red Dairy Cattle poor fertility is also the most frequent reason for culling and accounts for 22.4% of all registrations. Second highest reason is udder disease (18.3%) and then the voluntary culling reason of “low yield” (17.6%)
For the Jersey “low yield” is the most frequent reason for culling and accounts for 20.2% of all registrations. The second highest reason is then poor fertility (18.4%) followed by udder disease (18.3%).
The images above show the top culling reasons for the three breeds, including only data with registered reasons for culling. For Holstein and RDC cows, the figures are the weighted average for Denmark, Sweden and Finland based on the proportion of cows in each country. For Jersey cows, the data are from Denmark.