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Education - An Introduction into Breeding

Breeding, in its simplest form, involves selecting the most suitable animals to breed the next generation. This is in hope of the next generation becoming as good as or even better than their parents in order to develop the breed for the future.

Selecting animals to breed is made easier if the records of their performance are kept and if we have knowledge of their relations. Holstein UK has a service which is able to record all pedigree animals on a computerised database as long as the farmers have registered their Holstein cattle with the Society. Farmers often register cattle after birth with Holstein UK, they then receive a pedigree with all the information available on the calves parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

A farmer may register a calf with Holstein UK when it is born. The farmer receives a certificate which shows him the animal’s pedigree. An animal can be called a pedigree Holstein if its parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have also been registered with Holstein UK.

As well as showing the animal’s pedigree, the certificate shows the performance details of the relations such as milk volume, milk fat content and milk protein content. Information on type traits (body structure) e.g. teat length and foot angle is also important when selecting animals for breeding as it can affect their health and length of life in the herd. Poor foot structure may mean that a cow will be more susceptible to lameness and other foot problems.