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Data-driven approach to using individual cattle weights to estimate mean adult dairy cattle weight
  1. Hannah Schubert1,
  2. Sarah Wood1,
  3. Kristen Reyher1 and
  4. Harriet Mills1,2
  1. 1 University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Hannah Schubert; hannah.schubert{at}


Background Knowledge of accurate weights of cattle is crucial for effective dosing of individual animals and for reporting antimicrobial usage. For the first time, we provide an evidence-based estimate of the average weight of UK dairy cattle to better inform farmers, veterinarians and the scientific community.

Methods Data were collected for 2747 lactating dairy cattle from 20 farms in the UK. Data were used to calculate a mean weight for lactating dairy cattle by breed and a UK-specific mean weight. Trends in weight by lactation number and production level were also explored.

Results Mean weight for adult dairy cattle in this study was 617 kg (sd=85.6 kg). Mean weight varied across breeds, with a range of 466 kg (sd=56.0 kg, Jersey) to 636 kg (sd=84.1, Holsteins). When scaled to UK breed proportions, the estimated UK-specific mean weight was 620 kg.

Conclusion This study is the first to calculate a mean weight of adult dairy cattle in the UK based on on-farm data. Overall mean weight was higher than that most often proposed in the literature (600 kg). Evidence-informed weights are crucial as the UK works to better monitor and report metrics to measure antimicrobial use and are useful to farmers and veterinarians to inform dosing decisions.

  • Dairy cattle
  • weight
  • automatic milking systems
  • antimicrobial usage
  • medicine dosing
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  • Funding HS was supported through the One Health Selection and Transmission of Antimicrobial Resistance (OH-STAR) project, which iso funded by the Antimicrobial Resistance Cross-Council Initiative supported by the seven UK research councils (grant number NE/N01961X/1). HM was supported through BristolBridge, an Antimicrobial Resistance Cross-Council Initiative supported by the seven UK research councils: Bridging the Gaps between the Engineering and Physical Sciences and Antimicrobial Resistance (grant number EP/M027546/1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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