New CRV sales consultant for West Otago, Northern and Eastern Southland Carol Booth is encouraging dairy farmers in her region to use strategic breeding to safeguard milk production, preserve their bottom lines and ease the effect of heat stress on their animals.
Born and bred in the UK, Carol 29, grew up on a dairy farm in Yorkshire, England, and bred pedigree Holsteins with her father. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC) and almost a decade of hands-on dairy farming experience in Otago. Safe to say Carol knows her stuff.
“With the likelihood of more dry summers in the South, dairy farmers are facing unprecedented challenges,” she says. “Sustained periods of heat will not only reduce the quality and quantity of grass, but also cause heat stress in the herd, which can affect cow condition, production and in-calf rate.”
Carol says the key is strategically breeding healthy cows, and animals that are efficient producers by milking more on less feed.
“That could involve a combination of traits. For example, when conditions get dry, farmers often move to milking once a day. To do that well, you need animals that have strong udders to carry milk for 24 hours.”
Another desirable trait would be cows with a lower somatic cell count (SCC).
“Milking once a day can increase the risk of mastitis. Animals with genetically lower SCC are likely to be healthier and handle variable milkings better.