oa Agriprobe - Factors affecting longevity in dairy cattle : a review

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1810-9799



The production performance of dairy cows is a major factor influencing the economy of a dairy herd. Longevity has become an important factor in breeding programmes because of its economic effect in a dairy herd. Changing the longevity of cows genetically is difficult, because the heritability is low (0.03 to 0.07). Various conformation traits such as legs set, front teat placement, udder depth and suspensory ligament, affect longevity. A negative correlation was found between heart girth, muscularity and productive life. Increasing productive life increases age at first calving. Although there is a positive genetic correlation between first lactation yield and lifetime production, this seems to have led to a distinct decrease in average herd life. The problem with improving longevity, is the fact it is mainly influenced by environmental factors. Health problems during the lactation increase the risk of involuntary culling of cows after first lactation. Selection based on conformation traits such as legs, feet and udders has a high positive genetic correlation with longevity and seems to improve the productive length of dairy cows.

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