The Royal Dutch Cattle Syndicate (NRS)



Dutch farmers are well-motivated, foreward-thinking - but above all - realistic farmers, whose goal is the efficient production of milk from well-functioning and healthy cows. And they are not hesitant to try out new ideas!
In 1984, a unique cattle improvement organization was formed, based upon registration, milk recording, type classification adn AI registration: the Royal Dutch Cattle Syndicate (NRS).

The Red and White in Holland, grazing in the pasture


The NRS is an independent organization responsible for the collection and analysis of cattle improvement and farm management data and its subsequent certification. This organization champions the interests of its members in all facets of cattle improvement, both nationally as well as internationally.

Figure 1 gives an impression of the organizational structure of the NRS. The basis of the NRS is formed by dairy farmers, 42,000 in number. These farmers are usually members of an AI registration organization (99%) and/or the local milk recording organization (65%). The information gathered by the local and AI organizations is transferred to the regional cattle improvement organisations, which are members of the NRS.

Figure 1. Impression of the organizational structure of the NRS

The Board

Sixteen active farmers make NRS policy decisions. They keep in close contact with the industry. They gather personal experience, on their own farms, and are cognizant of the strengths and weaknesses of the NRS-organization and its services.


The regional cattle improvement organizations, with a staff of some 275 persons, are responsible for the registration and collection of the milk recording data. 350 technicans carry out artificial insemination procedures. The NRS itself employs 120 people, sixteen of whom work in the field of classifiers.

The NRS building in Arnhem

Holland dairy data 1993
farms 60,000
farms with milkcows 42,000
total cows 4,787,000
total dairy 1,745,000
milkrecording cows 1,335,000
AI (first insem.) 1,830,000
herdbook calves 500,000

Activities NRS

The main goal of the NRS is to serve its members by providing them with assistance in their cattle improvement work. The NRS works towards this goal by way of four key activities.

Other NRS activities are the following:

Linear traits become more important

NRS Information System

The heart of the NRS information structure is formed by the central data base in Arnhem. This computer contains a complete record of information concerning every dairy cow in the Netherlands. A unique lifetime number is issued to each animal and an individual herd number for each herd.
This integrated national data base, handling data input and output on information products for dairy farmers, the AI industry etc., is called the NRS Information System (NIS).

Figure 2. Relationships between the NRS Information System and other systems

The relationship of NIS with other systems is schematically illustrated in Figure 2. These relationships are terminal connections and/or data transfer connections. For example: the PC at a dairy farm can be connected with the NIS for data file transfer (such as downloading of breeding values of all cows in a herd, and uploading of automatically-registered daily milk yield of cows).
The local and regional offices maintain PC terminal connections with NIS. They have access to extensive data on the dairy cows belonging to farmers member of the local and regional office. They can thus make changes in data, or enter new statistics.
The AI industry and other organizations maintain terminal connections with NIS as well. Milk analysis laboratories provide NIS with data on fat and protein percentages in milk samples, as well as cell counts. NIS is directly on-line to the data base of the national identification and registration system (I&R). Together with the pedigree information and insemination records an automatic herdbook registration is made up.

Identification and Registration (I&R)

The Netherlands is one of the first EC member countries to introduce the new animal health care regulations. The animal health organization, in cooperation with the cattle improvement organizations, was responsible for the establishment of a new identification and registration system. All data processing activities for this system are implemented by the NRS (computer) working together with the local and regional cattle breeding organizations.

Figure 3. Relationships I&R system

Since October of 1991, all newborn calves have to be identified by two eartags within three days after birth; these tags serve as permanent identification. The eartag contains a lifetime number, bar code, and an eartag number (4 digits).
A voice response system is utilised for the collection of these registrations. The farmer uses the keyboard on his telephone to type in the eartag number of the calf, the dam's number and the calf's sex. And not only births are registred; sales and purchase transactions are registered, too. Slaughterhouses and exporters read the numbers by the bar codes, and are responsible for the collection of the tags for recycling.

The new I&R system will quarantee maximum veterinary control and the continued availability of all other relevant registration information concerning each animal. The goal is to achieve a high quality system at relatively low costs.

Services to the Farmer

The main goal of the NIS data base is efficient support of farm management by information products, and high-quality estimation of breeding values.

Participants NRS activities
1993 %

AI 41,500 99
herdbook registration 27,500 65
milkrecording 27,500 65
type classification 11,000 26

Calves with eartags are easily to identify

Presently, farmers can obtain information on the following: milk production management, concentrate feeding, level of cell counts, quotum plan, management of fertility, selections, sire advisory program, a general annual report, etc. Farmers and organizations obtain breeding values for production, type traits, milk-ability, and calving difficulties.
The farmers who have a PC management system may obtain information by Electronic Data Interchange or floppy disk, while the others receive it on paper, through the mail.

The Future

Developments for the future will give a strong support to the manufacture of tools for the AI industry, for its breeding programs and for the farmer's herd management.