The drive to increase fat and protein production in UK dairy herds is reflected in NMR’s latest Annual Production Report, published in January 2022, for the year ending September 2021.
The Holstein breed, representing 68% of NMR recorded herds, has added 9kg of fat and protein to its average in 12 months to achieve 693kg. Average milk yield has increased by 103kg to 9,472kg.
During the past decade, since 2010/11, the breed has added 84kg of fat and protein and 849kg of milk to its average production, while reducing somatic cell count by 33,000 cells/ml to the current 171,000cells/ml and calving interval by 22 days to 401 days.
Also showing a significant 12-month improvement in milk solids in the latest report is the Ayrshire breed, which has added 11kg in the 12-month period to reach an average of 536kg. Brown Swiss added 33kg to achieve 586kg, and Montbeliarde, added 17kg to reach an average of 555kg. These breeds represent 1.2%, 0.4% and 0.6% of NMR-qualifying lactations for the 2020/21 year.
Among the main dairy breeds with more than 0.6% of recorded NMR lactations, the British Friesian and Shorthorns are the only two with average calving intervals below 400 days, with 390 days and 395 days respectively. The British Friesian and Ayrshire breeds have the lowest somatic cell count average, both recording an average of 163,000 cells/ml.
For the sixth consecutive year, Messrs Harvey from Beeswing, Dumfries, is the top Holstein herd ranked on production. The herd of 270 cows with qualifying lactations in the year added 13kg of fat and protein to achieve 1,017kg and 14,267kg of milk on three-times-a-day milking.
In second place and a newcomer to the top 1% of Holstein production herds is PJ & PE Ashley and Son, from Shropshire. This herd, with 49 qualifying NMR lactations within their herd and milked with robots, achieved 1,007kg of fat and protein and 13,757kg of milk.
Moving into the top 10 national Holstein herds ranked on production is NMR/RABDF Gold Cup finalist 2020 Joe Ives from Hampshire. His 212-cow herd, milked through robots, achieved 945kg of fat and protein and 13,802kg of milk.
Staying power in other breeds
There has been little change among the top herds in the other main dairy breeds, with the top Ayrshire, Jersey, Shorthorn and British Friesian herds holding their number-one positions for the past three consecutive years, and in the case of Nerewater Farm’s British Friesian herd, for at least five years.
PA & JM Astley, from Montgomery, are in first place in the Ayrshire ranking. This 64-cow herd achieved 665kg of fat and protein and 8,384kg of milk on twice-a-day milking.
Scottish herd Kingsbeck remains the top Jersey herd with 771kg of fat and protein and 8,057kg of milk, using robot milking. And JS Knowles, from Yorkshire, stays top in the Shorthorn list with 669kg of fat and protein and 9,276kg of milk.
D Vincent, from Devon, is the new top Guernsey name with 617kg of fat and protein and 7,315kg of milk.
Double ‘success’ in production and genetics
BC & PM Cox’s herd, from Cornwall, has achieved a top five ranking in both the production and genetic merit national Holstein rankings.
With 96 qualifying lactations for the 2020/21 year, this herd is in second place in the genetic ranking with an average PLI of £343.
Milked through a robotic system, it moves up 14 places to fifth for production with 967kg of fat and protein and 12,333kg milk.
The top Holstein herd ranked on genetic merit is Easom and Son, Derbyshire, with an average PLI of £345.
The NMR Annual Production Report lists the top 1% of herds ranked on weight of fat and protein (CF&P), and on genetic merit (£PLI) nationally and by county.
It also includes the production, health and fertility trends, by breed and a total for all NMR-recorded herds – from 2007/08 to the most recently recorded year, 2020/21.
The Annual Production Report 2020/21 is available to NMR customers on the NMR Herd Companion website.