Feeding & Breeding
There are clear differences between the breeds in their ability to produce milk and milk components which need to be accounted for in their feeding. Equally, differences in bodyweights mean differences in daily dry matter intake capacities. Some breeds are considered to be better at looking after themselves and replacing condition more easily than others, making them better suited to systems involving out-wintering or extended grazing.
Lighter animals may be valuable for causing less poaching and deeper-bodied cows with larger rumen capacities better adapted to high forage grazing systems. Specific selection pressures (historically in New Zealand, for example, and now in certain UK studs) are likely to produce bloodlines with better inherent grazing abilities than those selected under predominantly housed production regimes.
Compared to their average generitc mertic contemportaries, the cattle used in investigations at Langhill, have higher intake capacities and need not necessarily produce lower fat or protein percentages. They are more efficient at converting feed energy into milk energy and generate substantially higher feeding margins. Overall, the animals bred for combined weight of fat and protein produced similar yields from 1 tonne of concentrates as their unselected contemporaries did from 2.4 tonnes, resulting in substantially higher margins.
Crossbreeding studies in New Zealand and North America have further highlighted the potential for improving overall dairy productivity - particularly in terms of fertility, health and survivability - by harnessing the power of hybrid vigour.
While different types of stock may be better suited to different production systems, regardless of breed the key to cost-effective feeding is meeting the animals' particular performance requirements within their specific intake capacities.