Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

February 1998


Published in Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 81, No. 6, 1998.


Lifetime records of 122,679 cows from 7557 herds, obtained from Mid States Dairy Records Processing Center (Ames, IA), were used to determine net income and net income for the planning horizon. With a planning horizon of five lactations for each cow, the estimated profit from the replacements was credited to each cow not surviving until fifth calving. Net income was defined as lifetime income minus costs. Net income for the planning horizon was defined as net income plus profit from replacements within the planning horizon. Income was from the sale of milk, calves, and culled cows. Costs were included for heifer rearing, feed, labor, and breeding. Longer herd life yielded greater profit for net income and net income for the planning horizon. The rate of increase in profit for longer herd life was reduced for net income for the planning horizon, which accounts for profit from cows replacing a culled cow compared with profit from net income. The relative economic value (phenotypic standard deviation basis) of production to herd life was 0.18:1 for net income and 0.46:1 for net income for the planning horizon. The relative value for herd life was overestimated by about 2.5 times when profit from replacements was not considered. Values for production relative to herd life increased for high milk prices and low feed prices. Lower prices for culled cows in combination with high prices for milk and feed increased the relative economic value of production.