Milk consumption in large parts of the world depends on the import of dairy products. Besides New Zealand, as main exporter of dairy products, Germany - within the EU – is a major exporter of dairy products. The objective of the study was to compare health related traits of the dairy cattle breeds mainly used in both countries. These traits were recorded in six New Zealand farms, and eight German farms. A total of 745 lactating cows entered the study. A variance analysis was performed by using SAS 9.3 with a restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimation method. Fixed effects were: Country, Breed/Crossbreed x Country, and Number of lactation in combination with covariates milking frequency and [day of lactation x day of lactation]. As expected, there are considerable phenotypic differences among the cows of both countries – depending on breed/crossbreed and/or farm management system. Besides milk yield (28.02 ± 1.07 l/d vs. 12.53 ± 1.00 l/d), cows in Germany and New Zealand differ significantly (p<0.05) in back fat thickness (1.70 ±0.07 vs. 0.68 ±0.05 cm), body condition score (3.64 ± 0.07 vs. 2.62 ± 0.05), and betahydroxybutyrate content (1.01 ± 0.05 vs. 0.67 ± 0.04 mmol/l). Starting the last third of lactation, German Holstein Friesians reach daily milk yields of about 33.7 (±0.7) litres in comparison to 13.8 (±1.2) litres of New Zealand Holstein Friesians (HF). New Zealand Jersey (J) reach the lowest daily milk yield with 9.8 (±2.8) l/day, while Kiwi Cross (HF x J) cows (12.4 ± 0.9 l/d) perform slightly below New Zealand HF. Additionally, higher daily milk yield estimates (least squares means) correspond with higher back fat thickness and body condition scores in German HF. German cows are allowed to higher concentrate intakes in contrast to mainly grass feeding in New Zealand. Unexpectedly, lameness scores do not differ significantly between New Zealand (1.35 ± 0.05) and German cows (1.39 ± 0.08). Therefore, pasture based dairy production must not necessarily be an advantage for dairy cows in terms of lameness and body condition. Indoor based dairy production, however, might have more issues with metabolic diseases and over conditioned cows. Keywords: body condition score, lameness score, back fat thickness, ketone bodies, New Zealand, Germany, milk yield,

Helen Schweizer

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Electronic Poster Session - Biology & Species - Bovine (dairy) 2, , 669, 2018
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