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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Dairy cow longevity and farm economic performance: Evidence from Swedish dairy farms

Addisu Adamie, Birhanu; Owusu Sekyere, Enoch; Lindberg, Mikaela; Agenäs, Sigrid; Nyman, Ann-Kristin; Hansson, Helena


The longevity of dairy cows is mainly determined by farmers' subjective culling decisions and can be linked to the environmental impact of dairy production and to the social acceptance of the industry. Still, the economic impacts of dairy cow longevity are not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine how herd average dairy cow longevity is related to the farm economic outcome. We used 3 indicators of economic outcome: technical efficiency, profitability, and average milk yield per cow. We used 2 indicators of dairy cow longevity: average herd length of life and average herd length of productive life. The study was based on a unique and detailed dataset from Swedish dairy agriculture, where herd-management data from the national dairy herd recording scheme were combined with farm-level economic variables from the Swedish Farm Accountancy Survey, for a total of 1,959 observations from 2010 to 2018. The regression results highlight that both measures of average herd dairy cow longevity have an overall positive and significant association with farm-level economic performance. These associations had an inverted U-shape, which implies that the association is first positive and then declines. Descriptive statistics indicate that the point where the maximum economic performance is attained varied across the economic indicators. Our results are relevant for individual dairy farmers and their advisors, who are interested in understanding how herd average longevity relates to economic performance on the farms. Our results are also important from a greater sustainability perspective, because linking them to previous knowledge about the environmental and social sustainability benefits of keeping cows longer highlights longevity-associated trade-offs between those benefits and the farm economic outcomes.


economic performance; longevity; milk yield; productive life

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2023, Volume: 106, number: 12, pages: 8926-8941