A culling survey in 80 Friesian dairy herds in East Anglia over four years investigated the age at, and reasons for, disposal or death. Failure to conceive was the most important reason except in very old animals. Low production was the second most common reason, culling being particularly heavy in the first two lactations. Mastitis was the major disease influencing wastage and increased with age until the sixth lactation. The percentage of culls for multiple reasons increased with age. There was a high proportion of young animals in most herds and the median lactating life of cows was about three years, equivalent to three lactations. Considerable variation in herd life demonstrated that there was substantial scope for improving herd longevity. Long living herds culled fewer animals for breeding problems in the early lactations and for mastitis in the later ones, enabling more animals to be culled as surplus and for production factors.
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