Skip to main content

6 Aug 2021

Farmers are demanding a smaller cow

In recent decades, the average cow on many dairy farms around the world has increased in size. And some farmers have realized that their cattle have become too large to be efficient.

It is a global trend. Dairy farmers using Holsteins have started to select smaller bulls for the next generation of milking cows. Claus Langdahl, Senior Breeding Manager for VikingHolstein explains that there are plenty of positive correlations with a smaller cow, which is also a more efficient animal.

“Farmers are demanding a smaller cow for many practical reasons, such as to avoid issues in the barn or milking parlor”, Langdahl says.


Too big to be efficient

Some farmers who used to select traits to boost production, without paying attention to the health traits, have now realized that their cattle have become too large to be efficient. The race now is to get back to a moderate frame size with cows that are more efficient.

“The cow size is a relevant element to consider for a farmer since it is an indicator of biological and economic efficiency. Cows that are more moderate in size are more efficient overall”, he adds.

Claus Langdahl explains that indexes as:

  • female fertility
  • calving direct
  • calving maternal
  • udder health
  • other diseases
  • feet and legs

and young stock survival has a positive correlation to the Saved feed index. This index is related to a smaller and more efficient cow.

Maximize profitability and animal welfare

The use of genomics is a great tool to advance in genetic progress, but it always requires the associated phenotypic evaluation to validate that progress. And this is what VikingHolstein does through the Nordic Total Merit (NTM) index.

“Breeding for a moderate-sized cow has been part of the development of VikingHolstein, and our goal is to keep the moderate stature we have now”, says Langdahl.

“The size of the cow in the efficiency equation is more sustainable than selecting for high production alone; in the end, what truly matters is profitability for the farmer and animal welfare requirements being met”, he adds.

VikingHolstein are resilient, medium-sized cows that are feed-efficient and produce high levels of milk and solids.


Look at the Top 5 best-sellers internationally for 2020. See the bull profile by clicking the name of the bull. 






VH Bernell

Bube x
VH Salomon

Martin Kristensen, Tarm, Danmark


VH Sparky

VH Suarez x VH Salomon

Flemming Petersen, Ribe, Danmark


VH Crown

Charley x ­Silver

Morten Egedal, Aalestrup, Danmark


VH Brook

Balisto x Denim

Vagn Kristensen, Stoholm J, Danmark



Penmanship x Bay MVP

USA / VikingGenetics




Read more about VikingHolstein