For years, the Netherlands has ranked among the best in class in terms of milk production per cow. Last year, a record for lifetime production was reached averaging 34,000 litres. Our recently published annual statistics reveal that higher production does not compromise the length of a cow’s life. The milk production of cows has increased in recent years while the animals have also reached a higher age.
For example, the annual statistics of Coöperatie CRV show that the longevity of Dutch herdbook cows increased by 2.5 months in the last financial year. Compared to 20 years ago, cows are now on average six months older. Cows are also getting healthier. For example, the number of cows with hoof problems has fallen by 21% since 2011. And over a period of 15 years, the number of cows with sub-clinical mastitis fell by 34%.
There are several factors that explain the longer life of cows in the Netherlands and their improved health status. These include new barn designs with more comfort for the cows and a better, balanced diet. But breeding also plays a key role. Longevity and health are important traits in the CRV breeding programme, and this has led to quantifiable results.
A sustainable, healthy herd makes work a pleasure and boost the profitability of dairy farms. Dutch dairy farmers are committed to ensuring that their cows reach a high age in the best of health. And they can rely on the continued support of CRV in their efforts.