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International farm comparison project

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Dairy farming has developed over recent years into a more professional and intensive process. There are still many differences among regions around the world. UNIFORM-Agri is one of the top dairy herd management software packages on the market. UNIFORM works as a centralized data hub, linking to many other on-farm systems, thus, making it possible to analyze high quality data from various sources, in one program. UNIFORM offers insight on areas such as milking machinery and procedure, sustainability, health and fertility performances.

With the large number of UNIFORM users worldwide, the aim of this project is to compare the dairy herd management between UNIFORM users in different countries. Compared countries include Canada, The United States, Spain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and The United Kingdom. Analyzed areas of performance are milk production, sustainability, fertility and health. We expect to be able to inform you with results about every other month.

It is important to consider the number of participating herds for each country included in this initial analysis of the project. There are more farms included from The Netherlands or United Kingdom than from other countries. Therefore, data from countries with a higher number of participants are more accurate than others.

Figure 1. Number of farms per country in Project (blue columns) and average size of the herds (Nr. of calved animals in orange, nr. of youngstock in grey). The Netherlands is the country with more participants, followed by United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany and France. USA and Spain are the countries with less farms in survey.

MILK PRODUCTION AND SUSTAINABILITY
This first chapter highlights the starting points in milk production and sustainability.


Figure 2. Average production during lactation and 305 days production, combined with Days in milk for finished lactations.

For milk production, indicators analyzed are total milk production in lactation, average daily milk yield and average standard peak production. Solids (fat and protein) are also compared.

Spanish farms are observed to be highest in both total lactation production and average daily milk yield. Denmark and Canada are on 2nd and 3rd highest in milk production. However, if we look at level of milk production relative to the number of days in lactation, the UK shows fewer days in milk, followed by Canada. Therefore, production in Canada is more efficient than in other high producing countries such as Spain, USA or Denmark.

French farms show the lowest values in milk production and daily milk yields with the highest days in milk per lactation.

Highest Standard Peak Production scores present in Spain at 54 kg. Denmark and Canada are close behind with an average value of 47 kg.


Figure 3. daily milk production per cow and average SPP per cow. Lines represent average % Fat and Protein in milk.

Focusing now on fat and protein in milk, countries from Central Europe produce more solids per kg of milk than other countries (% fat and protein in figure 2). Denmark is the highest producer of fat and protein with The Netherlands in a close second. Belgium, Germany and Canada all seem to produce similar levels of fat and protein.

About sustainability, Danish cows have the highest production sustainability (since first calving until date of culling) with 24.5 kg of milk per day in their productive life. Cows from The Netherlands have the highest life production efficiency (since birth until culling date), with 13.9 kg of milk per day lived. Denmark is in second place in life production efficiency.

 Figure 4. comparison of the production efficiency and life production efficiency between countries. Values from USA haven’t been considered.

CONCLUSIONS
In general, there are not better producers than others among the farms in this survey. Every country has a different environment, different circumstances that determine how milk is produced, and difference systems determining the product value paid back to the farmer. For example, considering milk production, depending if we look for volume or for milk quality, the best performers are different countries. Although Denmark would still be in the top rankings.

UDDER HEALTH

Figure 6. Graph with results of udder health between countries

In this comparison, the Netherlands is the country with the best performance in udder health. This may be related with the antibiotic reduction plan running there for more than 10 years.

The Netherlands also has the lowest average somatic cell count, lowest % of cows with greater than 250,000 SCC and has only 2% of mastitis. Only the UK and Spain have lower % mastitis cases – both at 1.5% – than The Netherlands. United Kingdom is also doing a great job in prevention and control of mastitis.

CONCLUSIONS
In general, this survey does not reveal there are better producers than others. Each country has a different environment and different circumstances that determine how milk is produced. In udder health, The Netherlands is doing the best work overall. This is a result of the country’s focus and performance in mastitis prevention and control for many years. Other countries have focused more on mastitis treatment.

FERTILITY

 

Figure 4. Days to first heat and first insemination, combined with number of inseminations to pregnancy.

Analyzing heat detection and days at first insemination, United Kingdom has the best results, with the shortest period between calving and first heat or first insemination. Denmark and Canada also have good results, with average days to first service under 80 days in milk. Spain is close behind with 81 days to first insemination. Belgium has 82 days and Germany and US 85 days. France and the Netherlands are over 85 days in milk at first insemination.

On the other hand, looking at the efficiency of insemination (number of inseminations per positive pregnancy result), those countries that wait more to first service have better results. Both France and The Netherlands are under 2.00 inseminations per pregnancy. USA has also a value under 2.00. Denmark has exactly 2.00 insemination per pregnancy, therefore, it can be considered the most efficient country in insemination performance, because 1st AI is done before 80 days in milk and not many semen doses are needed, unlike Spain or UK.

About the three main fertility KPI’s: Insemination Rate, Conception Rate and Pregnancy Rate, USA farms have the best results. Considering that ideal values for these KPI’s are:

  • Insemination rate: 65% or more
  • Conception rate: 40%
  • Pregnancy rate: 24%


Figure 5. Results of the 3 main fertility KPI’s by country, combined with the predicted calving interval.

From the whole group in the international comparison, only US farms have an Insemination Rate (IR) over 55%. Spain, UK and Canada are over 50%; the rest are under that value.

On the other hand, countries with lower IR have better Conception Rate (CR). For example, CR is over 40% in USA (47.3%), Denmark and The Netherlands (41.8%) and Germany (41.5%). In Canada and UK values are 39.5% and 38.1% respectively. Spain has the lowest value of all at 32.7%.

Pregnancy rate (PR) isn’t 24% in any country in this project, but in USA it is 23.3%, which is a very good value considering it is an average. The second country with highest PR is Denmark, followed by Canada and UK, the rest are under 16% which is low for this KPI. PR is the result of a combination between IR and CR. Therefore, countries with better performance in IR and maybe not the best, but good performance in CR, are the ones with higher value of PR.

Denmark has the shortest predicted calving interval, followed by Germany. The country with longest predicted calving interval is Spain.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, there aren’t better producers than others among the farms in this survey. Every country has a different environment and different circumstances that determine how milk is produced. In fertility, USA is the best overall fertility performer. This can be related with the situation of the US dairy market and the goals of US producers focusing more on producing high milk volumes. High producten cows have lower fertility than others, so farmers must work harder on fertility performance if they want good results.