At the recent Large Herds conference held at Port Elizabeth between 2 and 5 June 2019 there were two poster presentations on developing analyses systems to add value to existing program outputs which should assist farmers and consultants in strategizing, breeding and management. Here are the Abstracts:

  1. A newly developed system of obtaining Dairy Cattle farm-recorded data from automated systems to be used for biological and economic benchmarking as well as future genetic merit predictions

     by DA Kruger, RR vd Westhuizen & D Victor, SA Stud Book, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


To be functional and economically viable, the management of dairy cattle establishments needs to be optimal, requiring a definitive breeding objective and management strategy. Consistent record-keeping is paramount to ensuring that the correct decisions can be made. Record-keeping has been simplified with the help of integrated dairy systems and on-farm software. However, on-farm software only allows performance comparisons within the herd. To allow important benchmarking against the breed, as well as avoiding additional administration in an already time-constrained environment, an automated system has been developed to import farm records from on-farm software into a central database. Records to be imported include birth notifications and registrations, fertility records, continuous milk productions, as well as animal cancellations. The system will also allow prediction of breeding values for animals from herds that do not partake in traditional milk recording, as their data can also be collected. With the uptake of farm data, vital management reports are generated for each participant. These reports encompass not only individual herd statistics, but also benchmarking of the herd against other participants in the breed. If used correctly, these reports provide invaluable assistance to the dairy establishments in ensuring that they are not only meeting their objectives, but remaining relevant, both within the breed and in the industry.


  1. Production analyses from performance records from a TMR and pasture-based automated milking system in South Africa

  A U. Gresse1, E van Marle-Köster2 & H Meissner3; 1Milk producers’ organisation, 86  Watermeyer St, Meyerspark, Pretoria, 0184, South Africa; 2Department of Animal and

Wildlife Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa; 3Milk SA, Research and Development, 361 Veale St, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria, 0081, South Africa

Introduction: Globally, dairy producers are employing precision farming practices and incorporate computer software that enables producers to manage large herds at an individual animal level. South African dairy producers have been adopting similar strategies with a trend towards larger production units and the incorporation of automated milking systems (AMSs). The software employed in automated systems record production, reproduction and health parameters on a daily basis. All variables and movements of individual animals, from the day of birth until exit from the herd are recorded. The phenotypic performance recorded in AMSs holds the potential for more accurate decision making on various levels for South African dairy producers.

Aim: To investigate the value of extracting historic herd performance data from TMR and pasture-based AMSs for performing a production analyses.

Results: A template was developed for extracting data tables from the AfiFarm herd management software.

By extracting animal records from multiple years, comprehensive data tables were constructed for analysing phenotypic animal performance. Mean performance values for production and reproduction traits were determined for animals born between 2002 and 2015 in both production systems. Exit dates and reasons for leaving the herd were evaluated to investigate the distribution of animals exiting the herd.

Conclusion: Findings in this study confirm that AMSs permit extraction and analyses of multiple traits imperative to dairy management.