German black & white and red & white Holsteins are bred for high lifetime production. The breeding goal is a profitable, dairy type cow that can be kept on the farm for many lactations because of good health, robustness and good fertility and that has adequate development potential with high forage and dry matter intake capacity. For overall milk production, a genetic potential of 10,000 kg milk (305 days production) with 4 % fat and 3.5 % protein percentage is pursued in order to achieve a lifetime production of more than 40,000 kg milk.
Mature cows are supposed to achieve a height of between 145 and 156 cm as well as a weight of 650 and 750 kg. Body and motion traits including correct and sound feet and legs have to contribute to the high production level and good longevity. In addition, a healthy udder is required that is easy to milk and allows high daily production over many lactations with regard to quality and efficiency and that also meets the requirements of modern milking systems. On the sire’s side, German Holstein breeding guarantees, with its total merit index RZG – introduced in 1997 – balanced breeding for economic as well as health-relevant traits in milk production, conformation, udder health, functional longevity and breeding ability. The total merit index combines a variety of individual pieces of information and offers the breeder selection criteria for bulls which does not only consider milk production, but also functional traits according to their economic importance.