A Multi-level hierarchic Markov process with Bayesian updating for herd optimization and simulation in dairy cattle

R.M. Demeter, A.R. Kristensen, J. Dijkstra, A.G.J.M. Oude Lansink, M.P.M. Meuwissen, J.A.M. van Arendonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Herd optimization models that determine economically optimal insemination and replacement decisions are valuable research tools to study various aspects of farming systems. The aim of this study was to develop a herd optimization and simulation model for dairy cattle. The model determines economically optimal insemination and replacement decisions for individual cows and simulates whole-herd results that follow from optimal decisions. The optimization problem was formulated as a multi-level hierarchic Markov process, and a state space model with Bayesian updating was applied to model variation in milk yield. Methodological developments were incorporated in 2 main aspects. First, we introduced an additional level to the model hierarchy to obtain a more tractable and efficient structure. Second, we included a recently developed cattle feed intake model. In addition to methodological developments, new parameters were used in the state space model and other biological functions. Results were generated for Dutch farming conditions, and outcomes were in line with actual herd performance in the Netherlands. Optimal culling decisions were sensitive to variation in milk yield but insensitive to energy requirements for maintenance and feed intake capacity. We anticipate that the model will be applied in research and extension
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5938-5962
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • optimal replacement policies
  • annualized net revenue
  • optimum culling rates
  • milk-production
  • decision-process
  • economic value
  • genetic evaluation
  • calving intervals
  • cows
  • model

Cite this