- Annual per-ha pasture DM production and harvest were greater for the Jersey (J) farmlet, although J had 12 percent less pasture harvest and DM intake/cow than Holstein Friesian (HF). This indicates HF has a greater drive to eat.
- As expected, HF produced more milk and a similar amount of protein/ha, and less milk fat than J.
- While J ate less DM/cow and produced a lower milk yield, it was able to utilise the pasture more efficiently to produce more milksolids/ha (fat and protein) and more milksolids/kg of liveweight than HF.
In 2018, DairyNZ carried out research to help us better understand how cow breeds differ in their milk production, and use of metabolisable energy (ME) and pasture. Previously, comparative stocking rates (CSR) for profitable grazing dairy systems have been defined by accounting for the pasture production potential of the farm (tonnes of dry matter per hectare, or t DM/ha), the amount of feed imported from off-farm (t DM/ha), and cow liveweight (kilograms, or kg) to give a measure of kgs of cow liveweight/t of feed DM available1.
However, CSR assumes no effect of cow genetics beyond liveweight. Also, there is increasing evidence of differences between breeds in their gross efficiency use of ME for milk production2, 3.
To compare breed production and further understand this effect on profitability, DairyNZ last year analysed data from a production system experiment performed from 1990 to 1993. Funded by the DairyNZ Levy and the University of Waikato, this analysis aimed to determine whether Jersey (J) and Holstein- Friesian (HF) breeds had similar milk production. It also examined if they differed in their use of ME and amount of pasture eaten at the same liveweight per hectare with an expected CSR of 80, and no imported feed. Two farmlets were established, one for each breed. Biological data from the early 1990s experiment, and 2015 to 2017 financial data extracted from DairyNZ’s DairyBase, were used to model the financial performance of each farmlet.
Implications for profitability
Economic analysis indicated that operating profit/ha was five percent greater for HF than J, although the gross farm revenue for J was $306/ha higher than HF. The analysis used a milk price of $0.55/kg ($4.41/kg milk fat and $8.02/kg protein), so J would have an even higher gross farm revenue advantage (+$167) under the current (2018/19) milk fat and protein values.
However, the lower operating profit was driven by greater farm operating expenses for J. This was due to the increased stock, feed, labour and other working expenses, reflecting the additional costs associated4 with having more cows/ha for J to achieve the same CSR as HF.
For more information about this research, please refer to the following publication:
Spaans, O. K., K. A. Macdonald, J. A. S. Lancaster, A. M. Bryant, and J. R. Roche. 2018. Dairy cow breed interacts with stocking rate in temperate pasture-based dairy production systems. Journal of Dairy Science 101 (5): 4690-4702.
- Macdonald, K. A., J. W. Penno, J. A. Lancaster, and J. R. Roche. 2008. Effect of stocking rate on pasture production, milk production, and reproduction of dairy cows in pasture-based systems. Journal of Dairy Science 91(5): 2151-2163. doi: 10.3168/jds.2007-0630.
- Prendiville, R., K. M. Pierce, and F. Buckley. 2009. An evaluation of production efficiencies among lactating Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian cows at pasture. Journal of Dairy Science 92(12), pp. 6176–6185. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2292.
- Beecher, M., F. Buckley, S. M. Waters, T. M. Boland, D. Enriquez-Hidalgo, M. H. Deighton, M. O’Donovan, and E. Lewis. 2014. Gastrointestinal tract size, total-tract digestibility, and rumen microflora in different dairy cow genotypes. Journal of Dairy Science 97(6): 3906-3917. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7708.
- Macdonald, K. A., D. Beca, J. W. Penno, J. A. S. Lancaster, and J. R. Roche. 2011. Short communication: Effect of stocking rate on the economics of pasture-based dairy farms. Journal of Dairy Science 94:2581–2586. doi:10.3168/jds.2010-3688.
This article was originally published in Technical Series June 2019