U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


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Animal: The international journal of animal biosciences

J.H. Britt, R.A. Cushman, C.D. Dechow et al., Review: Perspective on high-performing dairy cows and herds, Animal, https://doi. org/10.1016/j.animal.2021.100298


This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


Milk and dairy products provide highly sustainable concentrations of essential amino acids and other required nutrients for humans; however, amount of milk currently produced per dairy cow globally is inadequate to meet future needs. Higher performing dairy cows and herds produce more milk with less environmental impact per kg than lower performing cows and herds. In 2018, 15.4% of the world's dairy cows produced 45.4% of the world's dairy cow milk, reflecting the global contribution of high-performing cows and herds. In high-performing herds, genomic evaluations are utilized for multiple trait selection, welfare is monitored by remote sensing, rations are formulated at micronutrient levels, health care is focused on prevention and reproduction is managed with precision. Higher performing herds require more inputs and generate more waste products per cow, thus innovations in environmental management on such farms are essential for lowering environmental impacts. Our focus is to provide perspectives on technologies and practices that contribute most to sustainable production of milk from high-performing dairy cows and herds.