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7 Oct 2022

Breed for better udder health

Would you like to achieve higher mastitis resistance in your herd and improve herd performance?

No matter what production system you use, or what your herd’s current management level is, you can achieve greater efficiency and reduce your costs by breeding for stronger resistance to mastitis.

Mastitis causes direct financial losses to dairy farmers no matter where in the world you farm. It reduces milk yield, the milk can be contaminated with antibiotics and unsellable, plus the associated veterinary expenses, antibiotic and labour costs. There are also economic losses related to subclinical mastitis.

A higher culling rate and occasional fatalities occur as a result of poor udder health in your cows.  Mastitis is among the top reasons for culling dairy cows. It not only reduces animal welfare but also results in great economic loss for your business.

Better udder health VikingJersey cow

Breed for better udder health and stay profitable

To avoid extra charges and ensure the profitability of your dairy farm, the prevention of mastitis infection is the best approach. Choosing the right bull has a significant impact.

In the period 2002–2021, the Nordic countries improved their genetic level of udder health for three dairy breeds:

  • +19 index units for VikingHolstein bulls
  • +15 index units for VikingRed bulls
  • +21 index units for VikingJersey bulls

With a consistent focus on breeding, you can achieve genetic progress for udder health and improve your bottom line. 

By selecting a sire with a breeding value (EBV) of 120 on the Udder Health index you can achieve a high reduction in the frequency of mastitis cases:

Find the right bulls to improve udder health
Better udder health VikingRed

Reliable mastitis registrations

The Udder Health index describes the bull’s daughters’ genetic ability to resist mastitis and it includes breeding values for udder health in the first three lactations.

In the Nordic countries, we use both:

  • the direct measure, clinical mastitis
  • indirect measures like conformation traits (fore udder attachment and udder depth) and SCC, where the latter is only an indicator of mastitis.

Mastitis registrations come from veterinary and farmer records on clinical mastitis. Official registrations are made for 90% of cows in Finland, Sweden and Denmark. That results in high reliability of breeding values for udder health.

The Nordic countries introduced the first mastitis resistance index as early as 1982. With the Udder Health index in NTM, you are tapping into 40 years of systematic data collection and breeding expertise for improving health and production.  

See the available bulls
Better udder health VikingHolstein
Learn about the management practices to improve udder health Check out the tips
Better udder health VikingJerseys

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