The first systematic milk recording started with the establishing of a milk recording society in Vejen, Denmark, in 1895. A group of bigger farms with entreprising owners wanted to identify not just cows producing much milk but also cows with high production of cream, as it was called back in those days. It was important because of the production of butter in the cooperative dairies (first one founded in 1882).
Milk recording spread quickly all over Denmark. The founding of The Association of Milk Recording Societies on Zealand (Denmarks largest Island) already in year 1900 can be taken as a proof of this. The number of herds in milk recording was steadily growing until 1957, and eventually almost every dairy farmer joined in.
In the 1920'es a farmer in Western Jutland had a red and white cow, which in his opinion was a very high producing cow, but when he started in milk recording he learned that the fat content was very low for that particular cow, and that he had several cows producing more butterfat. Such stories inspired many farmers to join the milk recording.
The below graphic shows the development in average milk yield per cow and year measured in milk recording over the years.
Starting from about 3.000 kilograms in 1899 the milk yield slowly increased until the mid 1950'es, when 4.000 kilograms per cow and year was reached.
Of course the first and the second world wars had strong effects on the milk yield and also zoonoses of Foot and Mouth Disease took their tolls. At the same time the increasing membership meant, that it was no longer only top farms participating. The inclusion of other herds caused slower progress in the average milk yield.
By 1920 approx. 15 % percent of Danish dairy cows were in milk recording. About 1960 it was approx. 55 % and now it is approx. 90 % of Danish dairy cows.
Artificial insemination started 1947 and allowed much stronger use of top bulls.
By mid 1970'es 5.000 kilograms of milk per cow and year were achieved.
From the early 1900's restrictive individual feeding af cows was used as defined by the feeding standards developed by Lars Frederiksen. The system was built on so called "feed classes" where 2,5 kilograms of energy corrected milk released an extra feed unit (1 kg of concentrate). This system was replaced in the 1980'es by socalled "strategy feeding" where cows had roughages ad libitum and fixed amounts of concentrates for the first 4 - 6 months of lactation. Ad libitum feeding is still used, but now as total mixed rations (TMR).
The milk yield has doubled compared to the 1970'es due to much better understanding of cattle nutrition and also due to intensive breeding prgrams.
During the same forty years the average herd size grew from 20 cows to almost 170 cows.
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