#16 Sue Pembridge crop

Spring TOP and classification

Would you like an independent assessment of your cows’ traits to help you make breeding decisions?

Sign-up now to have your Holstein Friesian cows’ traits other than production (TOP) assessed this spring.

Registered pedigree animals also receive a classification score, which is awarded as part of their TOP assessment.

The assessments will be carried out by trained inspectors.

Last spring, inspectors visited hundreds of farms to assess the characteristics and traits of more than 28,000 Holstein Friesians.

Robert and Steph Trainor are Holstein Friesian NZ members in Dannevirke.

All their two-year-old heifers and about 20 cows are assessed for traits other than production (TOP) and classified each spring.

In the 2019-20 season they had 12 excellent (EX) cows in their herd, nine VG89 cows and 15 cows which classified as VG88.

They have had three cows classify excellent three times (EX3).

“TOP and classification scores are valuable when marketing a heifer or cow,” said Robert.

“The figures are printed in sale catalogues, providing a breakdown of individual traits. It enables people to get an accurate picture of the animal, even if they can’t physically see her.”

Herd owning sharemilkers Dean and Aimee Perrett milk 260 cows in South Taranaki and are also Holstein Friesian NZ members.

“It’s a really important information gathering exercise for our business. It gives us more data to help improve our mating decisions,” said Dean.

“Our cows have great udders, but the TOP assessments have highlighted rump angle as a weakness we need to consider when selecting bulls at mating.”

It is believed changes in a cow’s rump angle can be partly blamed for a decline in her fertility and ability to get in calf quickly.

The Perrett’s have all their two-year-old heifers and a handful of older cows assessed under the TOP system each spring. They also herd test, which records a cow’s production, six times a year.

“Our herd sits in the top 1% for Holstein Friesians in New Zealand for BW (breeding worth),” said Dean.

“I’m trying to breed a cow that’s a solid producer with an udder built to last. Longevity is important.”

The close off date for spring classification applications is 4 September 2020.

The applications form can be filled out here.

Fees for TOP and classification services are reviewed every couple of years. There have been small increases to the fees listed below:

TOP and classification service fees

Herd fees$110.00$120.00
Cancellation fee (3-7 days)$101.50$121.50
Cancellation fee (0-3 days)$220.00$240.00
20% variance penalty$220.00$240.00
Minimum fee (tour option)$220 00$250.00

There are also another couple of changes to let you know about.

Stature has been recalibrated because over time we have seen a gradual increase in animal stature across all breeds. The stature scale is being moved up by 5cms. This means that a 1 will now be <110cms, previously <105cms etc. 

Teat length as trait has been trialled for the last two seasons, and becomes an official trait from this season, with animals receiving a BV for teat length.

TOP inspectors will be using new hand held units this spring, which are part of the information system being developed to sit with the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD). This will not affect the service you receive.

There are a couple of important things to remember to help ensure an efficient classification tour for our inspectors:

  • Ensure your records are up to date, this includes entering all calvings into the database and tagging of your 2-year-old heifers
  • Synchronise your records 48 hours prior to the inspector’s arrival
  • If you are inspecting 2-year-olds for TOP/classification, all Holstein Friesian animals within your 2-year-old age group must be put forward.
  • Heifers will not be TOP inspected unless they have been calved for at least 14 days.  To ensure we get all 2-year-olds, please make sure you present all 2-year-olds to the inspector, as the new system will record those that are within 14 days of calving.
  • Animals must be inspected on a concrete surface
  • Health & Safety of the TOP inspector is the responsibility of the farm, from the time they enter the property until they leave.

Remember, if you are a Holstein Friesian NZ member and classifying for the first time you will receive a 15% discount.

For further details please contact Sharon Goldsbury on 07 839 9957 or s.goldsbury@nzhfa.org.nz

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