Monday, 8 August 2016

Crossbreeding in Canada getting popular

VikingGenetics’ Red bulls are well appreciated in two Canadians herds which run crossbreeding using VikingRed to improve the cattle.

The goal was to get good longevity and easy calving and Corjan and Sandra Doornenbal, who moved from the Netherlands to Ontario, Canada, almost 15 years ago opened for a crossbred herd and today they milk about 180 cows. When they started, they had a pure Holstein herd but Corjan started to use some Swedish Red bulls like Orraryd and A Linné. Now the oldest Swedish cows are in their sixth lactation, and Corjan and Sandra are very happy with them.
“The production level is good, calvings are easy and the cows have good conformation”, Corjan says. At this moment, the best crossbred cows in the herd are Orraryd and A Linné daughters. There are many VR Cigar and Buckarby daughters among heifers and they look very promising. 

Many daughters by Gunnarstorp
Dave and Anneke De Boer milk about 120 cows in Ontario, Canada. Dave started crossbreeding almost ten years ago after his father visited Sweden and saw red cows there. Dave started to use Gunnarstorp in his herd years ago and there are still many daughters on the farm. They have good longevity and look very good. Orraryd daughters have done the same. The best cow in the herd is a Peterslund daughter, in fourth lactation. The cow had twin calves last time but no problems and she is pregnant again. “She is the best cow in the herd and produces more than 50 kg milk per day now.”, says Dave.

Pieter Schuurmans from CRV Canada and Dave De Boer with crossbred heifers.

An A Linné daughter

Thursday, 4 August 2016

From pure Holsteins to mixed herd

David Foot Limited owns three dairy herds in Dorset, southern UK. The family-owned business milks about 900 cows in total. Until 2015 they had only Holsteins, but then they started to think of other possibilities.

When the herd needed more cows, the managers looked for something different that could complement the production, and VikingJersey was the right solution. “We had lot of food for our cows in 2015, so we decided to buy more cows,” laughs Sam Foot, manager of the herd. They went to Denmark and imported 130 milking cows along with some pregnant heifers and younger heifers from three different herds.

Danish imports at D. Foot Ltd.
The installations they had suited perfectly for the Jerseys. “In 2014 we built a new barn for 400 Holsteins, because the old one was too small for our Holstein cows and suit perfect for the Jerseys” explains Sam. Sam and his herd managers, John and Eddie, like both the Holstein and Jersey breeds.

Perfect complement
The plan is to keep both breeds pure in the future. Holsteins give milk volume, Jerseys give components. The business has put lot of weight on health and fertility traits into their Holstein breeding for ten years and the results can be clearly seen; a herd of harmonic, strong cows. As the Jersey cows have Danish pedigrees, they will continue using VikingGenetics. Sexed semen for the best cows and heifers meanwhile the remaining cows will be inseminated with beef.
They are also satisfied with the program VikMate, which guarantees and protects against inbreeding and they use both genomic and daughter proven sires.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Crossbreeding with VikingRed helps Argentine farmers lower production costs

By Elisabeth Avendaño, VikingRed distributor in Argentina

The international over-production of milk and the consequent fall in prices are threatening dairy farmers all over the world. Argentina is of course not an exception, but its farmers are starting to see the advantage of crossbreeding their herd with VikingRed bulls. 

In the last years with a very high international price for soya beans, many dairy farmers in Argentina have chosen to “intensify” production by keeping their cows in pens or even constructing free-stalls (California style) in order to freeing their land for agriculture. This would enable them to export soya beans, but also means a huge increase of use of grain and soya in the diet of their cows. 

This decision results in an important increase in milk production, but farmers find it difficult to get a milk price that covers production costs. In a more intensive system, there are also often increased problems related to cow fertility, udder health, hoof health and so often a decrease in longevity, when cows are kept in pens.

However as in every business when the financial situation is hard, you need to look at the costs. Nowadays, more and more farmers are looking at the costs and realizing that by crossing Holsteins with VikingRed bulls, they are able to reduce “the hidden costs” like poor health. In the current situation all over the world, you cannot avoid to face these problems because it is important for the final profitability of a farm, and farmers in Argentina are now waking up to this fact.

ProCROSS is increasing
There is a growing interest to try the ProCROSS concept in several regions and farmers are thrilled with the productions, the improved fertility, the vigor of the newborns, the strong feet and legs of the cows and the great adaptability to grazing conditions of the offspring of the Montbeliarde as well as the Vi-kingRed bulls. The great advantage is the very easy calvings, transmitted by the VikingRed bulls. 

Elisabeth Avendaño, VikingRed distributor in Argentina, has found that VikingRed gives healthy daughters which are problemfree and long-lived, with excellent production well above average in their pasture-conditions with little grain or concentrates. 

Two daughters by Ladö

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

El Trébol - the success story of Red Dairy Breed in Colombia

Felipe Calderón is the owner of El Trébol and a veterinarian who always wanted to buy a farm with something different from the traditional breeds existing in Colombia by the 70´s. He started to look out of the Colombian borders and found the breed he was looking for in Canada in 1986; the Ayrshire breed. 

In 1996, Calderón participated in the World Ayrshire Congress where he heard about the Swedish Red Breed (SRB). The refreshment of the blood was very important for the Ayrshire breed in Colombia, because the inbreeding was already producing weak animals and the results with SRB are magnificent!

Always go for the best VikingRed bulls
Felipe Calderon chose T Bruno, B Jurist, Peterslund, Torpane and Orraryd and he could see the benefits quickly because the first daughters of these bulls gave much more milk than their mothers and improved feet&legs and strength a lot. They also had a perfect size for moving across the steep mountain pastures and black hooves are very important for the hot lands and the humid tropical areas.

VikingRed are today well-known in the cattle shows in Colombia. Calderon explains that a great satisfaction was to have the Grand Champion for crosses two years ago with his cow Uva Nueva (a crossbred Gyr (a Zebu breed) x VikingRed). She won the milk championship, best udder and Grand Champion titles. In Agroexpo 2015 the Grand Champion was a daughter by A Linné born in El Trébol. 

High production 
There are 55 cows in El Trébol, milking three times a day with an average of more than 9000 kg milk per cow/year, which is above average of the country. VikingRed works really well with high production, high solids, good longevity and good type and udders.  

A good amount of the VikingRed semen sold goes to crossbreeding in Holstein farms and Zebu farms. “And it works really well”, he explains. 

“I have rented a new farm for my heifers, and in order to rent the farm land, I had to buy the Holstein herd residing there. I have decided to continue with the Holstein breed and use VikingHolstein to improve health traits, reduce the size of the cows and improve the solids”, says Felipe who by now is planning to have a show window herd for the VikingHolstein, similar to the VikingRed show window herd in El Trébol.   

Facts of the farm:
El Trébol is located in a small and steep property in a land that has an average quality but generally very rainy. Earlier the average rain fall of the area was 1500 mm per year, but now because of global warming it rains more than 2500 mm per year. 

El Trébol uses V Föske, Pell-Pers, Uudin, Valpas, Tosikko, Turandot and Gunnarstorp and Tuomi. They produce embryos by flushing with sexed semen from Pell-Pers, A Linné, V Föske and R Facet.

The new Holstein herd that Felipe has bought to make a show window herd for VikingHolstein.

Uva Nueva was the ebst crossbred cow in Colombia in 2013. Felipe Calderón (5th from the right) is the owner of the El Trébol farm.

Genomic breeding predicts milk production better than pedigree index

In his master thesis, Agronomist Christian Bengtsson shows that genomic breeding values for VikingRed in Sweden predict their future milk production better than a pedigree index. 

A total of 10,000 heifers were included in the studies and they were divided into four groups. The first group with the 25% lowest index for protein yield and fourth groups with the 25% highest index for protein yield. (Figure 1 shows the average in protein yield for the four groups). 
The red bars show average for heifers based on pedigree index one year before calving and the blue bars show average for heifers based on genomic indexes before calving. For heifers sorted on pedigree information, the difference in protein yield between highest and lowest group was 21 kg. Corresponding figure for heifers sorted on genomic values was slightly bigger, 24 kg. 
Figure 1 clearly shows that the higher the index in the group before calving, the higher protein production they got during first lactation. The genomic breeding value was also better in predicting the future protein yield than pedigree index. The result was the same also for milk yield, where the difference between highest and lowest 25% was 583 kg. Corresponding figure for fat yield was 34 kg.

Basically, the study was based on genomic tests made before 2014. After August 2014, the reliability of the genomic breeding values has increased significantly due to females in the reference population, and the difference between groups is even higher today. 

Data from the LD-project* 
The data in this article is from all DNA-tested VikingRed heifers included in the LD-project. In the study are about 10,000 DNA-tested females of which 2,600 also have results from milk production in first lactation. The genomic breeding value before calving has been compared to production during first lactation. The genomic values have also been compared with the heifer’s pedigree index one year before calving.

*LD-project= subsidies from VikingGenetics to do genomic test of all females in a herd.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The real thing or the fake?

What is best, the real thing or the fake? The answer usually depends on the price you are willing to pay and on the quality you really want to get. If you can get the real thing at the lowest price – then nobody would be in doubt.

Focus on the Nordic profile
Nowadays, we find new interesting indexes in many countries. Common for most of them is that they are related to traits like reproduction, health traits and animal welfare. 
In the Nordic countries, these are traits that we have been working with already for decades. Still this knowledge is treated like something new for other Artificial Insemination companies (AI-companies). With genomic selection and females in the reference population it is now possible to get reliable indexes for health traits all around the world, which is marketed as revolutionary inventions by AI companies and animal pharmaceutical companies.

In the Nordic countries, we have always been ahead on quality and reliability on the health traits because we need to be 100% clear in our information and development of the existing and new traits to keep our position. This is an advantage to make us leaders in our branch. 

The Nordic Profile has become well-known internationally, but it is still at Viking Genetics you can find the real thing! 

Monday, 30 May 2016

VikingGenetics bulls come fully optioned!

Apart from the usual conformation and management traits most countries select for, Viking sires have a long list of extra traits that if ignored, eat away your profit margins because of unwell cows. 

VikingGenetics has been fortunate to have the ability to work with health traits since decades due to the extensive registrations, and with genomic selection, we have had the possibility to gear up even more. 

All registrations are collected in the same database with strict veterinary rules resulting in HIGH RELIABILITY also for health traits. Our index for udder health is primarily based on real veterinary diagnosis of clinical mastitis with additional information on cell count, and the index for resistance to other diseases includes information on metabolic disorders as well as reproductive disorders. The veterinary contribution has facilitated this for decades and given a great tool when it’s times to select healthy cows. 

Furthermore, all hoof trimmers contribute with information for the hoof health index that includes seven different hoof diseases and this information gives an excellent opportunity in selection of cows with healthy hoofs and ease to walk. 

The newest addition to the long list of health related breeding values is young stock survival which is now included in the Nordic Total Merit (NTM) for the first time. This index describes the survival of the calves up to 15 months of age for heifers and 6 months for bulls. 

If you are interested in getting a full declaration on your own females, you are welcome to test them in our system. The NTM gives you the best possibility to select for the most profitable cow.