GENETICS AROUND THE WORLD: DUTCH VS. U.S.

In the midst of August Sire Evaluations, CRV wants customers to understand the benefits and differences of both the Dutch Holstein and U.S. Holstein. Many people don’t fully understand the Dutch philosophy and the Dutch measuring system. Therefore, many farmers are hesitant to use Dutch genetics or traits—but farmers who have incorporated them have had positive outcomes and continue to rely on CRV genetics.

In fact, one of our valued customers, Emily Branagan of Woods Hill Farms, LLC in New York, shares a bit about their experience working with CRV: “Using CRV Dutch Holstein genetics, we have seen an improvement in health and efficiency in our herd. At the same time, we have greatly increased our quality of milk—resulting in a higher premium on our milk checks.”

Woods Hill farm is one of CRV USA’s longest-standing customers and an early adopter CRV genetics. In fact, they have seen a huge progression in their components since they first started working with CRV in 2010. Before incorporating CRV genetics into their herd, their fat and protein was 3.6% and 2.98% respectively. Now they are at 4.05% fat and 3.2% protein—and continue to improve by exclusively using CRV genetics. But, it doesn’t stop there. Not only did they improve component percentages, they improved components without sacrificing overall production. In 2011, their average milk per cow was 25,357 pounds per year, in contrast to 2016 where was 28,283 –which shows their great fat and protein genetic progress, while not dropping in milk production.

 

BENEFITS OF BOTH

At 60 percent Dutch Holstein, Woods Hill understands the value of Dutch and U.S. Holstein alike. In fact, there are several traits that CRV USA offers for both, that cannot be found anywhere else.

  • Better Life Health: Using Better Life Health, customers breed healthier, fertile, and longer lasting cows—resulting in trouble free cows, improved reproduction, longevity, lower health incidences, less turn over, less mastitis, and an overall healthier cow.
  • Better Life Efficiency: Better Life Efficiency allows producers to breed more efficient and profitable herds. This tool incorporates longevity, better feed to milk conversion, cow profitability, increased persistency, a boost in production, and manageable body size for a highly-efficient cow.
  • Premium Milk: Using milk component and proprietary CRV HerdBuilder traits, we help dairy farmers breed cows that produce more valuable milk. This includes fat, protein, Beta Casein, Kappa Casein, and our recently-released Casein Ratio. To learn more about adding value to your milk with CRV genetics, read our blog post about premium milk.
  • Udder Health: Udder health is an index calculated through mastitis and subclinical mastitis cases, in combination with routinely collected SCC expressions (measured through infrared technology). A breeding value of 104 on a bull leads to daughters experiencing 6.8% and 4.0% lifetime lower incidence of subclinical mastitis and clinical mastitis, respectively.
  • Hoof Health: A high score indicates less incidence of hoof diseases. The index accounts for six hoof disorders, including: sole hemorrhage, digital dermatitis, interdigital dermatitis, sole ulcer, interdigital hyperplasia, and white line disease—all scored by trained hoof trimmers. One standard deviation equals $11.74, so a cow scoring 104 will save you $11.74 in hoof health costs.
  • Ketosis: Ketosis is calculated through routinely collected ketosis indicators in milk (aceton and mBHBZ) in combination with observed ketosis cases. A breeding value of 104=daughters are 1.5% less likely to experience a case of ketosis in a single lactation.
  • Feed Intake: Feed intake is expressed in kilograms (1 kg=2.2 lbs) dry matter intake consumed daily, above or below population average. At the same PTA for milk production, the bull with a lower breeding value for feed intake will provide daughters who produce their milk more efficiently
  • Robot Traits: CRV offers three traits specifically geared at producers who have installed, or will be installing, automated milking systems Robot Efficiency is the speed at which animals milk in the robot. Time is measured between entering and leaving the robot. Daughter of bulls with a higher breeding value produce more milk per minute of robot occupancy. Robot Milking Interval is the time between two successful visits to the robot. A higher breeding value, above 100, means shorter intervals between visits and likely more visits per day. Robot Habituation expresses the time it takes for heifers to get used to the milking robot after first calving. A higher breeding value indicates that daughters of this bull will take less time to reach regular milking intervals. Only available on proven bulls.

 

DUTCH VS U.S. HOLSTEIN

One is not better than the other, they are just a bit different. There are physical differences and breeding philosophy variations, but which bull to use really depends on a producer’s breeding goals and each mating.

Most producers are already familiar with U.S. Holsteins because it has been the primary offering from American A.I. companies. Although producers across the country have different breeding goals, there are a couple trends we continue to experience. Many U.S. farmers continue to focus on milk and want to achieve a high amount of lifetime production. But, some producers are also starting to pay attention to pounds of fat and protein in hopes of earning more on their milk checks. And, there are still many that continue to focus on U.S.-based indexes to breed what they define as more well-rounded cows.

In contrast, the history of genetics in the Netherlands has primarily focused on high components, good udders, and functional feet and legs. Again, focusing on one over the other is not better—it’s about customizing the approach to meet your specific breeding goals.

In addition to the unique attributes Dutch genetics bring, there are other benefits to introducing Dutch genetics into a herd. First off, let’s get this straight: breeding U.S. Holsteins to Dutch Holsteins is not crossbreeding, they are both black and white Holsteins. However, the two countries have focused on different bloodlines—allowing for a great opportunity to outcross within the Holstein breed as it becomes more inbred in the U.S.; in contrast to the almost flat trend in Holland.

 

DUTCH MEASURING SYSTEM

Besides the genetic differences from U.S. to Dutch Holsteins, the Dutch-Belgian measuring system is slightly different than the U.S. system—but not as difficult as you think. The Dutch use kilograms to measure milk, fat, and protein—while the U.S. measures in pounds. Also, the Dutch use 100 as the average breeding value for most traits for the dairy cattle population. Compare that with the U.S. where we use an average of zero. The American value for the standard deviation is one point each, where the Dutch increase by four each standard deviation. In either case, on both systems, a good bull is still a good bull no matter the measuring system used.

Not only does the measurement system vary slightly, CRV has developed other traits that are not used widely in America. These traits have been used for Dutch Holsteins for anywhere between a few years to decades—with U.S. data and influence—and are additional tools CRV provides to benefit your herd when considering Dutch genetics.

  • Fertility Index: Fertility Index is made up of Non-Return Rate, Interval between first and last insemination, and Calving Interval. A higher score indicates a more fertile cow. In addition, a total of 34 fertility indicators are taken into consideration to increase accuracy.
  • Calf Survival: A higher score indicates the ability of a calf to survive past the stillbirth window, from days 3 to 365. One standard deviation (4 points) equals 1.12% more live calves.
  • Locomotion: This measures the ability of a cow to move freely. A higher score indicates a cow with better mobility.
  • Persistency: The animal’s ability to maintain milk production at a high level after the peak of her lactation. A higher score indicated the cow will maintain high milk production after the peak of her lactation.
  • NVI: NVI stands for the Netherlands-Flanders Index, and when using NVI, it will improve production and longevity, lower culling rates, and produce more fertile and healthier cows. Within this index, there are three major parts that create NVI: production, health, and conformation.

 

WHY LIMIT YOUR OPTIONS?

Dutch and U.S. Holsteins both offer similar and differing philosophies and tools to improve your herd—one not being better than the other. Each mating on your farm is unique and has diverse needs. Regardless of your breeding goals, CRV has the global tools and local expertise to help you better your herd. Here, at CRV USA, we offer you the options you choose!

Contact your CRV Genetic Consultant today to learn more about CRV’s Dutch Holstein and U.S. Holstein lineup.

–Written by Elizabeth Sarbacker, CRV USA Marketing and Communications Intern