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5 Oct 2020

Breeding for fertility

Good fertility is a combination of factors related to management and breeding. A low genetic level for fertility means you will need a high level of management to achieve good reproduction results. It is therefore important to consistently use bulls with a high genetic level of daughter fertility.

Please note that a breeding focus on reproduction is something that does not show through in the herd until three to seven years later. It is a long-term solution. However, doing this will have a huge and gradual cumulative effect from generation to generation.

Finding the problem
The genetic level for fertility in the herd should not be below the breed average. If you have reproduction issues in your herd and the genetic level is below breed average, you should focus on selecting bulls with the aim of improving this when you plan your breeding strategy.

Action plan
Selecting the best AI Bulls based on the Nordic Total Merit Index (NTM) will improve the genetic level for financially important traits, including fertility. There is a strong positive correlation between NTM and daughter fertility (39% for Holstein). Make sure you use the best bulls for daughter fertility and avoid having too much focus on improving production alone, as these two traits have a strong negative correlation (-29% for Holstein).

Crossbreeding is also a way to improve the reproduction results through breeding. Crossing with different breeds will give offspring with a better breed average than their parents, due to hybrid vigour.

Focus areas

  • The herd’s breeding level for fertility
  • Use the best bulls for daughter fertility (with high NTM)
  • Avoid having too much focus on improving production alone
  • Crossbreeding as a solution

Source: SEGES, Denmark