The accolade ’100-tonner’ has been around for 30 years in the Netherlands. In that time more than 40,000 cows have smashed the magic barrier of 100,000 kilos of milk production, including members of Flemish herds. The number of 10-tonners is also growing rapidly. Last year, the tally clocked up the 3400th cow with 10,000 kilos of fat and protein.
Text by Inge van Drie
They are popular, widely read pages in Veeteelt magazine: the monthly publication of the latest names to reach the 10 and 100 tonne milestones. Which farms have added a 10-tonner to their herds? Which sires are responsible? How long did it take to deliver that performance?
Producing 100,000 kilos of milk or 10,000 kilos of fat and protein: it still is a staggering accomplishment. But having one of these top producing cows in your barn is no longer unique. In total, more than 40,000 certificates have already been issued for yielding 100 tonnes of milk. To be precise 40,480, most of which (38,597 cows) were in the Netherlands with Flanders noting 1883.
At the official introduction of the accolade for 100 tonnes of milk production back in 1990, 67 cows were already eligible for the title. They smashed the 100,000-kilo barrier before 1990, but for a total of 467 cows, CRV is unable to pinpoint the exact date they became a 100-tonner.
Rapid growth in numbers
In the years immediately after its introduction, the number of 100-tonners remained relatively limited. Between 1990 and 1994, 1130 Dutch and Flemish big yielders exceeded the figure of 100,000 kilos of milk. As figure 1 shows, that number rapidly increased. Over the next five years, the number of 100-tonners had already tripled to pass 3500. In the period 2005 to 2009, 8600 cows exceeded the threshold of 100,000 kilos of milk, while ten years later 11,554 cows achieved that record in the same five-year time span.
And it hasn’t stopped there. In 2019 alone, numbers were swelled by a further 2463 100-tonners. That converts to about six or seven cows a day that pass the 100-tonne barrier. Never before in a single year have so many cows risen through the ranks to attain the title of 100-tonner.
The pattern with 10-tonners is practically identical. Here too, the number of titanic producers showed dramatic growth. As figure 2 shows, numbers rose from just eight cows in the period 1990 to 1994 to 147 in the next five-year period. In the successive five-year periods, the number of 10-tonners doubled a few more times to notch up 1140 in the period 2010-2014. After that, the number of 10-tonners appears to stabilize. In the 2015 to 2019 period, 1129 cows were awarded the accolade 10-tonner. This brings the total number to 3415 animals, 3333 from the Netherlands and 82 from Flanders. On average, these cows took 4063 days to reach the 10-tonne mark, during which they produced 126,041 kilos of milk with 4.50% fat and 3.50% protein.
Last year, 230 cows were awarded their 10-tonne production certificate. That is just a little lower than the peak year of 2016, when 239 cows passed the limit of 10,000 kilos of fat and protein.
High profile for red-and-white bulls
Skalsummer Sunny Boy is the undisputed king of both the 10 and 100 tonne categories numbering 1826 100-tonners and 292 10-tonners among his descendants. It is interesting to note that the top five sires are the same in both rankings. Sunny Boy is followed at a respectable distance by black-and-white bulls Tops, Eastland Cash and Etazon Lord Lily. In fifth place, Stadel is the highest placed red-and-white bull in both rankings with 630 100-tonners and 92 10-tonners.
Stadel, this Stollberg son out of Clitus daughter Doublette is also the bull who added the most 100-tonners to his collection over the past five years. He added 372 100-tonners in the period 2015 to 2019 (table 7). In fact, red-and-white bulls have been outperforming their black-and-white counterparts anyway in the last five years. After Stadel, Kian added the most 100-tonners to his total with 339 cows over the past five years. The number of 100-tonners descending from Delta Olympic, Hidden Future, Laurenzo 2 and Barnkamper Nevada also grew by more than 200 over the past five years.
Red-and -white bulls also enjoy a high profile in the list of 10-tonners in the last five years (table 8). Stadel boosted his collection most of all with an additional 81, while the younger bull Kian added 38 to his name. Noting 40 10-tonners, Etazon Lord Lily was the only black-and-white bull able to nudge in between the red-and-white bulls in the past five years.
- The Netherlands and Flanders now jointly have 40,480 100-tonners and 3415 10-tonners.
- In 2019, 2463 100-tonners were added, a record number.
- In total, there are 27 farms that are home to at least thirty 100-tonners.
- In the Netherlands, the Knoef family from Geesteren have the most 10 and 100-tonners, in Flanders the honour goes to the Lahousse family.
- Sunny Boy heads the list of sires for both 10 and 100-tonners.
- Stadel and Kian added the most 100-tonners to their totals over the past five years.