Rengab Genetics
Dairy Meat Breeds - 2

© 2010 Rengab Genetics

Dairy Meat Breeds - 2

Performance Dual Purpose Breeds For Crossbreeding


RDM (Red Danish)

Many years of consistent use of efficient breeding programmes has developed today's Red Danish cow which combines the following traits:

# High protein and fat yields with high components

# Positive trend for health traits

# Good fertility

# Easy calvings

# The best legs and udders

# Black hoofs

# Superior temperament and milking speed

Originally Red Danish were found on the Danish islands - the so-called Island Cattle and in Schleswig the Angler and the Ballum cattle. In 1878, a group of farmers in the town of Svendborg on the island of Funen decided to unite the red cattle and call it Red Danish, the oldest national breed of Denmark. In 1972 trials were made with imported genes of Finnish Ayrshire (FA), Swedish Red & White Cattle (SRB) and Dutch Red & White Cattle (MRIj), and in 1975 with semen imports from Brown Swiss (USA) and Red Holstein (Canada). This resulted to a decision in 1978 to use American Brown Swiss as genetic donor. In 1987 limited quantities of semen from SRB, Braunvieh from Switzerland and Red Angler were used. In 1992 experiments with the French Montbeliarde breed was done. In 1994 semen from proven Swedish sires was used. In 1996 imports of red and white cattle from Germany and Holland. In 2005 across-country breeding evaluation for conformation, fertility temperament and milking speed in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Red Danish is the leading breed as regards to the number of liveborn calves and 60 percent of all calvings are unassisted.

The breeding objective of the Red Danish is a modern, high-producing, strong, dairy cow which is continuously capable of living up to the requirements of the dairy farmers for a healthy economy and superior production traits and which is also capable of producing healthy and tasty products in demand among the consumers. Milk : fat : protein: -1:1:4 . This weight gives focus on high components and weighs protein approximately six times more than fat. On an annual basis 500 cows and 750 heifers are selected and mated to bull sires. The number of young bulls tested in 2004 was 60. The Red Danish imports bulls that live up to the breeding objective, mainly bulls of the Swedish SRB breed but also bulls of other breeds. (Author - Lisbet Holm)


SRB (Swedish Red)

For good farm economy the cows should effectively produce milk and meat according to market needs, be healthy, get pregnant, give birth to healthy calves without calving difficulties, work well in the herd and be easy to handle. Thus the SRB cow should be high yielding for milk and components, even under diverse conditions. The unique calving ease of the breed, good udder health and good fertility give excellent competitive strength. The ideal SRB cow is dairy typed and gives an impression of strength and elegance. The colour is red and white. The stature of the mature cow is 140-145 cm height at rump and the live weight 550-650 kg. The body is wide and deep and the topline strong. The rump is long, wide and slightly sloped. The legs are fine and parallel. The ideal udder is shallow, the rear udder high and wide and the fore udder has a strong attachment. The teats are 5-6 cm long, vertical and well placed.

The SRB origin goes back to indigenous Swedish cows and imports of red dairy cattle more than 150 years ago with the first importation being Ayrshire cattle imported in 1847. In the 1890's two breed associations were founded in Sweden, the Swedish Ayrshire Association based on Ayrshire imports and indigenous cattle, and the Association for Red Swedish Cattle based on Milking Shorthorns, Ayrshires and indigenous Swedish cattle. Importations of Ayrshires and Dairy Shorthorns from the UK went on till around 1920. On January 1,1928 the SRB was formally established with the fusion of the Ayrshire society and the RSB association in the farm Snesta, county of Sörmland. The two breeds were closely related and breeding goals were similar. Both had Ayrshire and Shorthorn bulls in their pedigrees and also to some extent the native breeds and the so called manorial breeds. The RSB breed had a higher proportion of Shorthorn blood (about 50 %) with the Ayrshire bull 28 Hero found in the pedigrees of almost all of them. From the late 1960th there has been a fairly continuous exchange of bull semen with the Ayrshires in Finland and the Norwegian Reds in Norway. A number of Canadian Ayrshire-bulls have also been used from the mid 1980th and during the last few years the exchange of genetics also include the Red Danish Breed.

An important step in the development of the breed was the introduction of modern progeny testing in 1953 and the widespread use of AI as the base for the breeding program. Another was a national computer center started in 1962 and the introduction in 1988 of a single national database where all information from animal recording, artificial insemination, milkrecording and veterinary diagnoses and treatments are registered. In 1975 the traits were combined into a Total Merit Index about 25 years before the non Scandinavian world followed suit. The aim being to produce a cow as profitable, healthy and easy to handle as possible. The long term, consequent selection for profitability has made the SRB-breed the highest producing red breed in the world. Add to that the selection for easy heifer-calvings, good fertility and components and low cellcount and you have the explanation to the increasing demand from many countries for SRB-genetics for improving other dairy cow populations and for crossbreeding in commercial dairy herds experiencing problems in these traits. (Author - Per E. Falk)


Finnish Ayrshire

Origin: Scotland, Ayrshire

Average weight of cows: 573 kg (2008)

Average milk yield and components (2008): 8 561 kg milk, fat content 4.33 %, protein content 3.48 %

There are about 200 000 Ayrshire cows in Finland, and over three quarters of them are milk recorded. Ayrshire has been the main dairy breed in Finland since the 1960s and currently accounts 67 % of the total recorded cattle. About 40 % of inseminations in the Finnish Ayrshire cattle population are done with young sire semen. This is to guarantee progeny testing of a large number of dairy bulls with sufficient accuracy. Finland is one of the few countries with such an intensive use of young sires.

About 125 Ayrshire bulls are tested in Finland every year. The number of test bull doses is about 1 300, which are used in milk recorded herds. Large progeny groups are the basis for accuracy of estimating breeding values for health and fertility traits. Some 50 % of cows are inseminated with best proven bulls and cows culled from dairy breeding with beef bulls to produce crossings for effective beef production. (Source:


NRF (Norwegian Red)

NRF–Norwegian Red is a high producing dairy breed that has been selected for a broad breeding objective, with increasing emphasis on functional traits like health and fertility over the last 30 years. The NRF breeding objective includes milk production, health, fertility, milkability, calving ease, temperament and growth rate. Relative weights are (total = 100%)

Milk production 28

Mastitis 21

Fertility 18

Udder conformation 15

Leg conformation 6

Growth rate 6

Temperament 2

Disease other than mastitis 2

Milkability 1

Calving difficulty0 0.5

Stillbirth 0.5

NRF cows have a live weight of 550-650 kg. Genetic trends for NRF show that selection for increased production and improved animal health and fertility can be obtained simultaneously, if the breeding objective is properly defined, and if the breeding program is designed to include selection for traits with low heritability.

Health and fertility has been included in the NRF breeding program since the 1970’s. The relative weight on these traits in the total merit index has gradually increased over time. With the current breeding program we obtain simultaneous genetic improvements for milk yield, mastitis resistance and female fertility.

Levels of stillbirth and calving difficulty in NRF are low, with an overall mean (all parities) stillbirth rate of about 2%, and 95% of the cows reported to have an easy calving. A large proportion of NRF cows are polled. Systematic selection of polled sons after polled elite sires during recent years have increased the frequency of polled animals. It is expected that NRF–Norwegian Red will become a polled breed within the next 20-25 years. (Source: