Norwegian Red characteristics
By keeping a balanced breeding goal for the last 40 years, Geno has overcome the negative correlation between production traits and health and fertility traits. This has resulted in a world-leading cow that has excellent production, health and fertility traits.
In the best herds in Norway, milk production exceeds 10,000 kg (22,045 lbs), with the best performing cows milking more than 16,000 kg (35,275 lbs). Currently, the average percentages of 4.2% fat and 3.4% protein is across the entire population of cows of all lactations.
Health traits have been included in the Total Merit Index (TMI) since 1978. Included in the breeding goal is resistance to mastitis and other diseases (in particular ketosis). These traits have much lower heritability than production traits, therefore genetic improvement can only be made if the breeding goal gives these traits sufficient weight. Low heritability traits need a large number of daughters in order to calculate accurate breeding values through the progeny testing system.
Fertility has been included in the TMI since 1971. The index for fertility is based on a non-return rate of heifers and first lactation cows. The genetic trend for fertility is positive in the Norwegian Red breed with an average 56-day non-return rate of 72.4% (2014).
Calving ease has been included in the selection program since 1978. The Norwegian Red is characterized as a breed with a low frequency of calving difficulties. Less than 2% of the calvings are reported as having major calving difficulties. Stillbirths are also included in the TMI, and less than 3% of Norwegian Red calves are stillborn.
A significant number of Norwegian Red bulls are polled and some are homozygous polled. All offsprings of homozygous polled bulls will be born polled.
With good production capabilities, and being known as the "problem free cow", the Norwegian Red lasts longer on average than most modern dairy breeds.
Beef index (males)
Growth rate is included in the TMI as this is an important economic trait for the farmer, in addition to securing a robust cow with good health, animal welfare and feed efficiency. Fully-grown Norwegian Red cows have a live weight of 550-600 kg (1213-1433 lbs).