We are pleased to report substantially increased sales of British Friesian semen. We are not surprised, as more and more farmers discover the benefits of using British Friesian to improve fertility, longevity and male calf value.
Now that we are experiencing conditions in the U.K., similar to the 50's through to the 80's, with low milk price and the need for low-cost systems for many farmers, it is surely timely to examine the attributes of the British Friesian.
This animal came to dominate the UK dairy cow population during these years, with exports of stock and semen to many countries throughout the world. Although it has become fashionable to sneer at "dual-purpose" animals, the fact remains that the Friesian is eminently suitable for many farms, particularly where grazing is a main feature of the system.
Her stronger conformation enables her to last for more lactations, thus spreading depreciation costs, and with the added advantage of income from the male calf. This can be placed into barley beef systems (finishing from eleven months) or steers taken on to finish at two years, on a cheap system of grass and silage. Very respectable grades can be obtained, commensurate with beef breeds, and thereby providing extra income for the farm.
Other advantages that accrue are lower veterinary costs, through good fertility, resistance to lameness and a tendency to higher protein percentage and, therefore, higher milk price. Neither the current PIN and PLI, nor indeed the proposed reformulated indexes, reflect the advantages that the Friesian cow can provide. It certainly does not reflect the extra energy requirement of the 8,000 litre, 800kg Holstein cow over the 650kg Friesian, needing another 1250 litres to break even.
In fact, we consider this index system has disadvantaged these animals over the years as, in addition, their type has been compared to a Holstein base. It is suggested that a separate "index" be composed to greater reflect the aspects of maintenance for body weight. protein percentage, longevity and calf value. NMR figures show that highest yields are achieved between the fifth and seventh lactations; this is particularly so for the Friesian, with a greater lift for mature cows, and sustained over more lactations. However, PIN only takes the first five lactations into account.
British Friesian breeding has certainly not stood still and, through studied evaluation, substantial gains in yield have been achieved without the loss of type.
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