Holstein workshop identifies new trends
With a life long passion for holstein friesians, Otago dairy farmer Denis Aitken has been a member of the World Holstein Friesian Federation (WHFF) Working Group on Classification for the last six years.
Established in 1990, the WHFF working group meets every two years in a member country with participants mostly comprised of each countries top two holstein friesian classifiers.
With a membership of 40 – 50 different countries, the aim of the WHFF working group is to develop international harmonisation of Type Classification of the holstein friesian breed, establishing a common understanding amongst breeders, dairy farmers and AI companies.
Explaining Type Classifi cation, Denis says that each year, breeders opt to have their cows classified and the artificial breeding companies want the daughters of the bulls inspected for ‘type’ checking for physical faults.
“With a standardised Type Classification system, when we’re selling or buying semen and embryo’s from one country to another the farmer is able to look at the pedigree and understand what the cow family is like or what the bull is leaving. Without that international standardisation there might be misunderstanding about how good or bad the bull is.”
Part of a small workshop committee, Denis helped to organise and run the 2018 WHFF workshop held in Shropshire, England which was attended by 44 participants, from some 28 different member countries.
The workshop involved two days of practical and two days of theory along with presentations from countries doing something different or with new emerging trends.
Body condition is emerging as one of the fastest growing traits worldwide in which New Zealand; something New Zealand already has significant experience in.
“We also identified the need for penalties for short teats – a huge problem world wide. At the moment there are more penalties in New Zealand on short teats and close rear teats, because some of the big rotary sheds and the robots can’t pick them up or identify them separately.”
While not affecting New Zealand, the working group is also looking seriously at greater penalties for stature with the cows in some countries getting too tall.
With a growing trend towards cows spending more time in concrete pads or spending time in wintering barns, emphasis was also placed on legs and feet with penalties increased for defects for foot angle and digital dermatitis that could reduce herd life.
A life member of the New Zealand Holstein Freisian association and a senior judge, Denis’ as
Richard Loader sociation with Holstein Friesians stems back to the days when his father started the Broomfield Stud back in 1952.
Denis’ son Andrew has carried the Broomfeild Stud on while his eldest son, James, started the Airdre Stud eight years ago.
Reflecting on his passion for the breed, Denis says Holstein’s are the most common purebred dairy cow in New Zealand, produce the most protein and the surplus bull or heifer calf are worth up to eight times the value of any other bred.
“The in-calf heifers are easily sold or there is the opportunity for live export, with the majority going to China or Mexico. The bull calves are sold for rearing for bull beef.”
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