Dairy Cattle breeding is the process of improving productive efficiency of a herd by selecting individuals in accordance with breeding goals with the aim of changing genetic merit of future generations.
Improvement of dairy herd genetics can positively impact herd health, longevity, reproductive traits and many other vital aspects of dairy cattle production. It can also lead to increased milk production, milk quality and overall profitability of the dairy operation.
Animals of high breeding value lie at the heart of successful dairy farming. There must be an effective balance between genetics and management since poor genetics in spite of ideal management results in poor performance.
There are several management aspects that affect genetics and hence milk production. Some management factors to consider include health, animal welfare, nutrition and functional traits, each of which can make an important contribution to profitability.
When selecting dairy cows to improve the genetic makeup of the herd several factors should be considered:
- Their milk production Records
- Pedigree Records
- Physical Appearance
- General health
A pedigree is the record of the animal’s ancestors including its parents and grandparents. The pedigree also contains available milk production records of cows and daughters of bulls. The dairy cow production records that accompany some pedigrees indicate how much milk cows have produced. Dairy bulls are evaluated by the production of their female off spring. These records evaluating bulls in terms of their daughter’s milk production are usually called progeny records.
Animal Genetics Improvement Programme
The Jamaica Dairy Development Board is currently embarked on an Animal Genetic Improvement Programme. The Animal Genetics Improvement Programme will run for three (3) years. The Programme will involve Cattle and Small Ruminant farmers to access the following:
- Cattle Semen: 2520 Straws
- Goat Semen: 100 Straws
- Cattle Embryos: 100
The objective of the programme is to:
- Improve the productivity of the county’s Dairy herd through the improvement in the genetic potential.
- Improve the gene pool of the local beef particularly the Jamaica Black herds which are currently limited
- Form the foundation for the development of the goat dairy sub-sector through the improvement of the local goat breed.