Sept. 4 2012 08:07 AM

Effective this September, there are new breakdowns for final score.

Holstein Association USA classifier Willis Gunst recently attended a twilight meeting in Wisconsin to share the new classification changes with Holstein breeders and to answer questions they have on the program.

The changes were brought about by a recommendation of the Holstein Association USA's Type Advisory Committee. It was approved and announced this summer at the national Holstein convention. The decision puts more emphasis on long-term profitability traits and penalizes 2-year olds that are over 59 inches tall and shorter than 53 inches. This in essence, makes stature at two-way trait where the extreme is not rewarded. The goal is to have a more uniform breed, which in turn makes cows able to fit their facilities and manage herd members equally.

A cow's final score is based on five major classification categories or breakdowns of front end and capacity, dairy strength, rump, feet and legs and udder. The classifier numerically assigns each breakdown a score ranging from 1 to 100 points. The numbers are based on the level of desirability exhibited by individual cows for each category compared to the true-type model. The final score is the weighted sum of the five major breakdown scores.

The two major breakdowns affected are front end and capacity, and feet and legs. Five of the scorecard points allocated to front end and capacity have been moved to feet and legs. This makes front end and capacity at 15 percent and feet and legs at 20 points. Udder at 40 points, dairy strength at 20 points and rump at 5 points remain unchanged.

Type appraisal comparisons

The United States places much less emphasis on feet and legs as compared to other countries. Even with boosting the percentage to 20 percent, we are still behind other countries that value feet and legs as high a 35 percent of final score. Feet and legs are not as highly heritable as other body traits. Environment and herd management can impact feet and legs to a high degree, and so the Holstein leadership has chosen not to overvalue feet and legs' genetic component.

The Holstein changes also bring their type appraisal closer to the PDCA scorecard, which was updated in April of 2009. While classification of any breed is a method to compare dairy cattle to the ideal for the breed, it is not a hard-and-fast rule to determine showring type. The two are closely correlated, but are not interchangeable.

Link to the new Holstein Association USA ‘s Linear Descriptive Traits
Link to the PDCA scorecard