The ‘typical’ British dairy cow: how has she changed?

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

By Felicity Rusk

Holstein-Friesian type breeds continue to be the most popular dairy breeds in Britain. However, its prevalence in the GB milking herd has been in decline in recent years.

In Oct 2014, Holstein-Friesian breeds* accounted for 82% of the GB milking herd, by Oct 2019, this had declined to 78%. The decline in the number of Holstein-Friesian type animals (-168k head) over this period is greater than the decline in the overall milking herd (-103k head).

Almost across the board, the number of pedigree animals declined between 2014 and 2019. However, this has been offset by an uplift in the number of crossbred animals.

Since October 2014, the number of crossbred cows in the milking herd has increased by almost a third (72k head). This is likely a reflection of the improved understanding of genetics and potential gains from cross breeding.

Shifts in the type of breeds in the milking herd will influence average milk composition and yields.

*Includes Holstein-Friesian, British Holstein, British Friesian, Friesian and Holstein breeds.

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