Udder soundness is strongly correlated with a female’s lifetime breeding success, and as you may expect, at Rockley we focus on producing cows with this important trait. We also consider our high standard for sound udders when selecting bulls, something which is often overlooked in our industry.
If you are looking to invest in more profitable, highly productive cattle with excellent fertility characteristics, it’s important to understand how udder soundness is reflected in your bottom line. Udder soundness is one of Rockley’s 7 elite breeding attributes.
The soundness of a cow’s udder affects the quantity and quality of her milk, calf weaning weights and calf mortality. Sound udders and teats are also more likely to retain their physical form and characteristics, enabling a cow to calve repeatedly. It’s clear that breeding females that have sound udders will improve your productivity and profitability.
The ideal udder
The most desirable udders have a specific size and shape that enables the cow to provide sufficient milk (for a good calf weaning weight) from the smallest amount of mammary tissue. An ideal udder is firmly attached, symmetrical, reasonably long but not too deep. The quarters should be evenly balanced with medium sized, plump teats located squarely under each one. Viewed from the side, the udder floor should be level.
We closely monitor our Rockley females at calving. Those with udders that fail to meet our standards are culled to ensure that our breeding herd continues to provide genetic gains for stud and commercial producers seeking more profitable, high-performance cattle.
Undesirable udders and teat defects can reduce cow productivity through poor udder health, dry quarters, increased labour costs, reduced profits, increased calf mortality and reduced weaner weights.
Further, cows with undesirable udders and teats can pass these defects to their progeny, which only perpetuates the problem.
Selecting bulls for sound udders
Our high standard for sound udders is also important when selecting bulls, something which is often overlooked in our industry. To assist us in this, we are in touch with breeders who share our breeding objectives.
As with females, poor genetic selection for sound udders in bulls can also have long-lasting negative effects on profitability. The benefits of producing a marvellous line of females will be severely impacted if the bull they are sired by has passed on udders and teats that are unsound. The likely result is that, rather than breed for ten years or more, these females may need to be culled and replaced, which would obviously affect your bottom line and slow down your genetic gain. For stud and commercial producers, females that have desirable udders and teats can assure longevity for breeding.
Rockley’s breeding strategy
In our recent IVF programs, we are utilising older generation sires that are known to breed females with strong fertility characteristics; our aim is to breed a line of females with sound udder confirmation, strong mothering abilities and increased breeding longevity. We expect their male progeny to exhibit puberty early and to have a larger scrotal circumference development at an early age. This strategy and long-term plan, developed from information we gained at a 2017 Genetics Technology Field Day, aims to improve Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for scrotal size (SS) and days to calving (DTC).
To find out more about Rockley’s selection and breeding for udder soundness, please contact me (Ashley) on 0408 780 810.
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