Dairy production and products
 

Breeding

Milk producers can improve productivity and returns from dairying through selective breeding and control of reproduction. Reproductive efficiency (e.g., calving intervals, conception rates) can be improved by using genotypes that are suitable to the production environment, and appropriate husbandry practices.

Reproductive performance of dairy animals is affected by such factors as the environment, animal nutrition, producers’ socio-economic conditions, dairy animals’ adaptability and genetic characteristics, and type of production system (intensive or extensive). Small-scale dairy producers have no scientific knowledge of genetics and breeding, but they have valuable traditional knowledge regarding breeds and their management. They have breeding objectives and strategies even though these are not formalized or written down. For instance, producers may share sires with their neighbours or the entire community. Many indigenous groups or communities have developed their own local breeds.

Artificial insemination (AI) is used mainly for cattle, and to a lesser but growing extent for other dairy animals such as sheep and goats. In developing countries, AI is routinely used by large-scale dairies, which often produce breeding males that are sold to smaller producers for natural mating. The use of AI by small-scale livestock keepers is less common and is largely restricted to peri-urban dairy producers.