Is ketosis draining your dairy herd profits? Besides optimizing management practices, you can rely on breeding to reduce the risks of ketosis and other metabolic disorders in your cows.
In recent decades, improving health is receiving more attention in dairy cattle breeding. A healthy dairy cow increases the profitability of your farm. On top of that, healthy animals bring greater job satisfaction for you and your employees.
One way to improve the health of your dairy cows is to use the General health index in the NTM (Nordic Total Merit) index as a tool. This index covers early and late reproductive disorders, ketosis, other metabolic disorders, as well as foot and leg problems.
Even though the heritability of health traits is relatively low, and the data is limited due to the small number of treatments, it is possible to breed for better health.
By focusing on improving health in your dairy herd, you establish a sound foundation for your business.
Extra data provides greater genetic progress
Back in 2013, Denmark started to analyze the milk recording samples for Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and Acetone. A high concentration of BHB and Acetone (ketone bodies) in the milk indicates (sub-)clinical ketosis.
These traits have a high genetic correlation to ketosis but also to other metabolic diseases. By including BHB and Acetone in the indexes, calculations of reliability and heritability went up for the General health index and especially for the two sub-traits of ketosis and other metabolic diseases.
The data was included for the first time in November 2017, which made General health a better index. Finland started to analyze for BHB and Acetone in 2015 and Sweden in 2019.
Extra data is being entered into the index all the time, so you as a dairy farmer can breed for fewer health problems in your cows in the future.