How to maintain declining Dutch local cattle breeds?

Y. de Haas, S.J. Hiemstra, D.I. Bohte-Wilhelmus, J.J. Windig, A.H. Hoving-Bolink, M.H.T. Maurice - Van Eijndhoven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


Conservation of local breeds should not be limited to endangered breeds, but also directed at non endangered but declining breeds. A detailed assessment was made of the Groningen White Headed (GWH) cattle, based on (1) demographic and genetic analyses on pedigree data, and (2) interviews with GWH farmers. The demographic analysis showed that the number of purebred GWH calves born per year decreased from 3,000 in 1980 to 500 nowadays. Average inbreeding coefficient in the purebred GWH population increased in the last decades to 3% in 2005. Rate of inbreeding between 1980 and 2005 was 0.45% per generation, based on a generation interval of 5.5 years. Average mean kinship was 3.9% for GWH in 2005. Similar genetic results were found in a previous study on Meuse-Rhine-Yssel (MRY) and Dutch Friesian (FH) cattle. Based on outcomes of 23 interviewed GWH farmers an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) was made. According to the farmers, the strengths of the GWH cattle are their strong legs, good fertility, easy calvings and efficient feed intake, while low milk production and limited availability of AI-bulls can be considered as weaknesses of the breed. Similarly, for MRY and FH cattle functional traits are strong, while milk production and opportunities for breeding and selection are weak. Preservation of local cattle breeds requires a strong breed organization, where breeding programs and structures have to be discussed. When limited number of purebred bulls are available through AI, genetic gain and accuracies of breeding values need attention. Possible options to cope with this are a ‘cold sire system’ to avoid excessive use of individual sires, or a ‘fundament based’ breeding system, including limited exchange of semen between herds
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 60th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, Barcelona, Spain, 24 - 27 August, 2009
Place of PublicationWageningen
PublisherWageningen Academic Publishers
ISBN (Print)9789086861217
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event60th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production -
Duration: 24 Aug 200927 Aug 2009


Conference60th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production


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