Milk production can be improved over time by paying attention to bull traits when selecting semen for artificial insemination. But as a young farmer, there are some traits that you should always look for before you purchase a dairy cow.

You should always keep in mind the information that we have set here fo9r you. You can than thank us later.


* The cow and bull each provide 50% of the genetic makeup of the resulting calf.

* Breeding your cows to superior bulls for specific traits will add superior genetics to your herd.

* Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your cows to determine how to get a better calf.

* Match a bull’s strengths with a cow’s weaknesses to get an ideal calf.

* For example, for a cow with weak legs, select a bull that is “positive” for leg traits.

Identifying Strong and Weak Characteristics:

For each characteristic listed below, scores are recorded for the above characteristics, with the ideal score for some characteristic being 9, in others 1, and again in other cases it is somewhere in the middle.


You can improve your cows milk-producing capacity by selecting bulls who rank highly for udder characteristics.

 Udder depth: a characteristic which if appropriate will help a cow live out a long productive life.

Ideally depth should not go beyond the hocks, as these cows tend to be predisposed to mastitis and stepping on their teats. Too shallow an udder however does not produce much milk therefore ideally depth should be somewhere in-between.

 Udder texture: a characteristic which, when present, is representative of a superior production animal.

Cows with lots of texture tend to be high producers.

These udders are soft, pliable and elastic, and well collapsed after milking.



Median Suspensory: The ligament which suspends the udder between the teats. In order for a cow to carry a large volume of milk, her median suspensory must be strong. Weak median suspensories can cause the teats to face outward and rupture can be the end of a cows productive life.

 Fore udder attachment: Should be strong to avoid teats becoming too close to the ground (and lead to mastitis) and to prevent teats from getting steppedon.

 Teat placement: Ideally teats will be at the centre of the quarter, and at the most dependant part of the udder. This is to prevent difficulties milking.

Rear udder attachments: should ideally be high and wide, as both provide more strength for milk carrying capacity and provide structural longevity for the cows udder.

 Teat length: In Canada, ideal teat length is a function of milking ease, therefore ideal Kenyan teat length may be longer than ideal Canadian teat length due to the differences in hand versus machine milking. Ideally teats should be long enough to milk properly without causing teat sphincter muscle strain, yet short enough to prevent problems of stepping on teats and mastitis.

The four quarters should be even-looking.


If a cow has sore feet, or is lame, she will produce less milk. Choosing cattle with strong, well built feet and legs will lead to less lameness and a longer life of your milking cow.

 Foot Angle and Heel Depth: Both angle and depth areimportant to the cows longevity. Well-built feet will hold up better through the rainy season with a reduced incidence of foot-rot which is a major cause of lameness of cattle. Feet should be short, well-rounded and have slightly-spaced toes. Spacing of the toes (claws) allows for air circulation and reduction of bacterial disease.

Bone Quality: More of a show cow trait, and will be omitted from this discussion.

 Legs: Pasterns should be strong, of medium length, and flexible. Forelimbs should be straight, wide set and squarely placed. Hind legs should be nearly perpendicular to the ground from hock to pastern from the side view, straight and wide apart from the rear view.



A cow produces the most milk during the few months after calving. Calving every year will increase milk production. Selection traits can enhance fertility.

Rump Angle: Not only important to the mechanics of the cows body, appropriate rump angle is likely associated with uterus placement, and thus good rump angle may reduce instance of urine pooling, prolapsed uterus and thus difficulty rebreeding.

 Pin Width: Wide pins allow for large calves to be passed easily, and thus resulting in less wear and tear on the cow, and likely fewer serious calving injuries.


A strong body will last longer and therefore produce more milk.

Height: Larger cows tend to have more capacity to eat and drink (larger rumen and intestinal tract)and produce milk. They can also produce largeroffspring and for these reasons taller cattle may beof benefit, however they also require more to eat and according to some, for the same quantity of milk a smaller cow can produce more milk. Height is also a function of how an animal was fed while it was young, so this characteristic becomes very difficult to assess on Kenyan dairy farms.

Medium sized cows may be more heat tolerant and be desirable for Kenyan conditions.

Body Depth: A Cow with a large barrel and lot of size can, under the right circumstances, be a very productive cow.  Size, Relative height at front end, Chest width and Back Strength (Loin Strength): The loin is the portion of the body specifically important to bearing the weight of the udder, stomach and fetus. A strong loin will carry a large volume of milk, food and fetus for many years comfortably, while cows with weaker loins will tend to “wearout” at a younger age and have a shorter productive lifespan.

Bulls are classified as being “strong” (or positive +) or “weak” (or negative -) for a certain characteristic based on whether their progeny are excellent or poor for the characteristic. In addition to the body traits indicated above, bulls can also be rated as “+” or above average for milk production, protein, and fat, somatic cell score and productive life.


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