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Efficient Cow

Production efficiency and the environmental impact of cattle breeding

Climate change is likely to be the topic of the Century. As in all sectors, the cattle industry will likewise be challenged to do its bit towards climate protection. To analyse breeding potentials and further elaborate possibilities and approaches, the “Efficiency Cow” project was started under the overallcontrol of ZAR in the field of production efficiency. The project is funded by the Ministry for an Austria worth living in and the
Federal provinces. Since the current level of knowledge among Austrian practitioners does not currently allow a breed which will take account of the reduction of methane emissions, the focus of the project will be on the aspect of energy and production efficiency. The goal is on the one hand to analyse the efficiency of the utilisation of food stuffs as well as the eco-impact of milk production. A core theme is the analysis of breeding possibilities in the field of production efficiency. Aside from the detailed information available to date from performance testing (milk, fat and fitness) further information on body weight, mobilisation, health and feeding are taken into consideration. The project partners are the Agricultural Research Centre Raumberg-Gumpenstein, the University of Soil Culture in Vienna, the Veterinary Medicine University of Vienna and
ZuchtData and ZAR as well as their member organisations.

With its „Efficient Cow“ project, RINDERZUCHT AUSTRIA and their partners
are on the search for the ideal cow. The ideal cow is one which produces as much milk as possible without any problems in a sustained and efficient way with the farm feed available. It also also gives birth to one healthy, and
thriving calf each year. In the year 2014, extensive data will be collected from around 4,500 cows on around 200 breeding farms. In each trial milking, with the control assistants the most important body sizes of the animal are measured. Moreover the body condition (BCS), any possible lameness and the weight are recorded. In addition, the ration currently fed
and the key figures for health and metabolism are documented. Records are necessary throughout the duration of the project regarding the development of feed reserves and any hoof care performed. For the evaluation of the energy supply with regard to births, Keton tests are made available.Together with the provincial control associations (LKV) and the breeding associations, the data is collected and made available for special evaluations. This data is to form the basis for the elaboration of efficiency parameters and the analysis of breeding possibilities in the field of production efficiency.
Moreover, the optimum live weight is to be derived to attain the highest feed efficiency. Moreover, this project should contribute towards the better assessment of the environmental impact of cattle husbandry. The benefit for the individual farmers taking part is decisive. Within the course of the project, they will find answers to the question with which cows in their herd they are able to produce milk in the most efficient way. In addition, the farms can expect Herd Management benchmarks for the evaluation of the potential for improvement of farms in terms of efficiency.

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