Tall tales

It’s official, Irish cows are getting bigger. Apparently, they’re also getting more docile and milking faster and all of this is having repercussions on milking parlour design.             News from the Agricultural Research Forum, currently taking place in Tullamore, shows that the trend for more angular cows in the last decade is a consequence of the upgrading of the traditional British Friesian to Holstein.               Genetic selection in Irish dairy cattle over past decades has predominantly been on milk production. Genetic correlations with milk production suggest that, with such objectives, animals will become taller and wider, and develop deeper, more strongly supported udders.               ‘This has repercussions for optimal cubical and milking parlour design,’ explains Dr Mairead Bermingham, Teagasc Moorepark. ‘In addition, animals also have developed deeper, more strongly supported and attached udders which has negative implications for udder health. Furthermore, animals have tended to become more docile and faster milking, which has both management and welfare benefits.’