Hoard cows have high feet and leg scores

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Hoard cows have high feet and leg scores

Date: 
Mon, 12/06/2010

As a group, the Hoard Guernsey herd had outstanding feet and leg scores, averaging 81.86 points on 342 cows at the most recent classification. There are a number of reasons for their solid feet and legs: some is genetic, some is the facilities, but a lion’s share can be attributed to a diligent hoof-trimming program and the steady use of footbaths by the Hoard Farm crew headed up by Jason Yurs. Feet and leg evaluations run strong in all groups with first-lactation cows averaging 80.13 with scores climbing steadily and topping out with the fourth-lactation-and-older group averaging 83.54. Shown in the photo is Dairyman Royal Lane who is a 2-year-old with an Excellent set of feet and legs.

The Hoard Farm continues to use a great deal of young sire semen. Currently, 70 percent of the services in the milking herd are to young bulls. This trend is resulting in significant genetic gain, as the service sires are nearly double the Net Merit average of the heifers. Since we have many young sires’ daughters, the Hoard Farm is making a conscious effort to keep all young sires’ daughters until they get their first score. That includes the good and the bad. That effort was so extreme that we kept two young cows that bottomed out the scorecard in their udder score at 50. While this move did pull down our classification average, we believe it provided valuable data on those bulls and for the breed as a whole.

The Hoard Farm team continues to breed heifers based on age and scored three heifers that had not reached their second birthday. An even larger number of young cows have calved in less at than two years of age but were in milk a few months before seeing the appraiser. The youngest cow calved at 1 year, 9 months and went 82 points. The Hoard Farm team has definitely found a trend that well-grown heifers calving early adapt to their surrounding and calve with less udder edema than older herdmates. As a whole, the entire group of 2-year-olds is calving at 24.4 months.

After reviewing the data, the Hoard Farm ended up with:
• 24 Excellent (90 points and higher)
• 201 Very Goods (80 to 89 points)
• 105 Desirable (70 to 79 points)
• 7 Acceptable (60 to 69 points)
• 2 Poor (50 to 59 points)

The entire 342 Guernsey herd averaged 81.31 points, compared to 81.52 six months earlier. The udders average 80.66 with feet and legs at 81.86. The milking herd averages 2.64 lactations, up from June’s average of 2.55. Classification scores by age group are:
• 110 first-lactation cows: 78.96 final score, 79.3 udder, 80.13 feet and legs
• 93 second-lactation cows: 80.22 final score, 79.06 udder, 81.95 feet and legs
• 56 third-lactation cows: 82.38 final score, 81 udder, 83.13 feet and legs
• 79 fourth-lactation and greater cows: 85.06 final score, 84.84 udder, 83.54 feet and legs