Thursday, 2 November 2017

VikingDefence™ is here!

The defence is in the genes

VikingDefence™ is the combined name for all health traits that we have been breeding for for decades in the Nordic countries. Our bulls have been selected to breed high producing and healthy cows. They breed daughters with a natural defence against diseases, VikingDefence™

Lately in media, there has been a lot of coverage regarding the low use of antibiotics in the dairy industry in the Nordic countries, compared to the rest of the world, and that is a result of the responsibility we have taken in breeding. We care about natural, healthy animals, and a responsibility for a sustainable dairy production where people, environment and animals are in focus.

VikingDefenceTM includes those traits with registrations from clinical diseases made by veterinarians and hoof trimmers. This sophisticated cooperation for data registrations is unique for the Nordic countries.

Dairy producers in the Nordic countries have a long tradition and feel a strong commitment to being a part of the registration system. The reason for this is that the data that each farmer receives is the strongest management tool they have as a professional dairy farmer today.

Registering the specific clinical cases, as we do in the Nordic countries makes the breeding far more successful than when relying on correlated traits such as somatic cell count, feet & legs, and immunity.

Some people claim that it's not possible to breed for better health, because heritability is too low, only 2-5%, but as long as there is a variation between bulls, selection works! Since we have reliable data in, we also get reliable data out. That’s the secret behind successful breeding!
In the Nordic countries we have been breeding for health traits longer than anybody else We have the most sophisticated registration system in the world that gives us the most reliable breeding values. Trust VikingDefenceTM, the natural defence for healthy animals! Healthy cows – better life, for you and your cows!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Genomic selection is the way forward - Jens Lykou's success story

Genomic selection is the way forward

Jens Lykou in Denmark owns 450 cows and he uses genomic selection all the time to optimize the herd.

About a year ago, Jens Lykou began testing all females genomically as he became part of VikingGenetics' LD project. Jens is looking for higher reliability when selecting the best animals for breeding, and that he gets through genomic selection: "I get a lot of knowledge about my animals at an early age in their lives and it gives me a good basis when I have to decide how they could be used in breeding", Jens says. Jens has a goal of reaching 490 cows in July this year and has invested a lot in using sexed semen for a long time to ensure a sufficient number of replacement cows. Over the last three to four months, he has increased the usage of beef semen to slow down the number of heifers he gets, as his goal is just about to be reached. Today, 30 percent of the best heifers are inseminated with sexed semen X-Vik, while 20 percent of the cows are inseminated with beef semen.

Which animals should I choose?

The genomic tests help Jens decide exactly which animals he should use in breeding – on which of them he should use sexed semen and which should be inseminated with beef semen. It's all about economics: "In the past, we looked very much at each cow, while today we focus on optimizing the entire herd production, as well as animal health and much more. Ultimately, it is about getting the best animals that can contribute positively to the bottom line" - he says.
By means of genomic tests, Jens also finds the best heifers and cows for embryo flushing. The country's highest tested heifer after VH Ponder is found in the herd, and with her +33 in NTM she is an obvious candidate for flushing at a later date. In addition, Lykousminde has delivered a number of good bulls to the VikingGenetics’ breeding program over the years, most recently VH Vesuv.

 Denmark’s highest tested heifer with +33 in NTM after VH Ponder (left)

Breeds cows for robot milking

Jens Lykou invested in the first two robots for his herd in 2003, and today he has seven Lely robots for the cows. This means that he has been breeding for years to achieve balanced udders with not too close rear teats. Too close rear teats do not work for milking in the robots. Breeding advisor Jan Hinrichsen takes this into account when compiling the mating plan, and here too, genomic selection is an advantage:

"It increases the reliability of all individual characteristics of the females, so they get the same reliability as the bulls - which gives the best combinations in the selection of bulls”, comments Jan. Genomic selection therefore has many advantages, and Jens is early on it with testing his animals. The calves are tested as soon as possible: "We already take the test when the calf has just arrived and needs an ear tag" comments Jens.

Friday, 11 August 2017

August Proofs - Top performers


Here are the top bulls from VikingHolstein, VikingRed and VikingJersey after the new proofs.


VH Nerd RC – A first class producer
Nugget RC x Lastyear x VH Lima
gNTM +32

VH Nerd RC is a new and really interesting bull. The “RC” in his name means that he carries the red gene, but he himself is black. He is bred in the herd of Per Laursen – a farm that has also given the highly used VH Chacca (VH Clement) gNTM +26. The last year, the dam produced 10,600 kg milk with an impressive 4.78% in fat and an outstanding 3.87% in protein. Her dam is a VG88 VH Lima (Ligö) daughter.

Clearly, VH Nerd RC has got his dam’s ability to breed high components. His overall production index is at 118 and fat% index at 137 and protein% index at 123 – not common to see such a progress! Health and fertility is really good, and he breeds average body frame, super feet & legs and very well attached udders with good ligament.


VR Vimpula – A production winner bull
Valpas x Peterslund x Etroni
NTM +28

The Valpas sons are now on podium among progeny proven sires now. The best of them is VR Vimpula NTM +28. His breeders are Kati and Ari Luukkonen, Finland. VR Vimpula, who is a former GenVikPLUS sire and has also been producing X-Vik semen, got his first progeny proof now with 250 daughters. He is a great production sire with index 122. His proof is balanced with average health and fertility and very easy calvings

Vimpula is an example of the success of ET work. The maternal grand dam was bought to Kuusela farm as a heifer and was flushed several times. Today this cow, Nelli, has given a total of almost 140,000 kg milk with 4.1% fat and 3.5% protein, being her best lactation 11,600 kg milk, 3.9% fat and 3.5% protein. She has calved 13 times. The daughter Unilaulu (s. Peterslund) is the dam of VR Vimpula. Unilaulu’s lifetime production was more than 70,000 kg milk, her best lactation at 13,400 kg milk with components 4.4 and 3.6.


Former top genomic bulls are now among the highest ranking of all Jersey bulls

The genomic system proofs itself, when former top genomic bulls, like VJ Huzar and VJ Janko now are among the very best Viking Jersey bulls – as highly reliable daughter proven.

VJ Janko is in the lead with NTM +26, based on 417 milking daughters and 210 classified. VJ Janko is one of the breed’s best bulls for both F & L and for Hoof Health. Also udder health, longevity, rear udder height, ligament and udder depth are among his many positive trademarks. Unfortunately, VJ Janko is a JH 1 carrier (son of DJ Jason and M Jace) which will restrict his use a little.

VJ Huzar is very close with NTM +25, based on 144 milking daughters and 96 classified. VJ Huzar breeds super mammary, fore udder attachment, rear udder height and width as well as udder depth are among the breed’s best. VJ Huzar also breeds excellent fertility, udder health and longevity.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

People With Passion - Talent Behind The Scenes

People With Passion – Jonna Pessala   

Jonna Pessala is one of our veterinarians at our Finnish bull station in Hollola, Finland. Jonna has been working with us only a short while, she started in April 2017, but she’s become a vital part of our team. Her area of focus is the embryo flushings from heifers.

Jonna has always wanted to be a vet. Ever since being a little girl she had her mind set on working with animals. The original plan was to become a vet that works with smaller animals and pets, but later on she took an interest in food industry hygiene. It’s not a very known fact that veterinarians are working in the food industry as hygiene controllers and officials. She never did end up working for the food industry as fate stepped in.

After graduation in 2015, she was working as vet and one job call took her to a dairy farm, little did she know that this call would change her life. This city girl was swept of her feet by the charms of the young dairy farmer owning the farm, and she lost her heart to the farmer – as well as for the cows. Nowadays she lives on the farm and runs it with her man. They have 30 milking cows. She says: “Life surprised me totally! I grew up in an urban environment and imagined to be working with cats and guinea pigs, but suddenly I found myself milking cows in the countryside.”

Jonna found her area of veterinary medicine in production animals, especially in cattle. She enjoys working with dairy cattle and wants to improve her skills and knowledge all the time. Breeding and reproduction are her main interest areas. “Now that I’m a farmer myself, the breeding aspect of dairy farming is extremely interesting to me”, Jonna says, and continues: “We are planning to expand our farm and we want to breed the best possible future generations.”

Working at VikingGenetics has been very interesting and educational. Jonna feels that all VikingGenetics operations are very clear, professional and well organised. Especially the expertise in embryo flushing and egg collection from heifers is world class. This is the area where she wants to become an expert and working for VikingGenetics is the right place to make that happen. “I’m learning so much from the other veterinarian staff and my skills are developing constantly”, Jonna says enthusiastically.

Her future plans are to find a balance between her job as a vet and running their dairy farm. “I might go back to school and do a further specialising degree on production animal healthcare. I’m also very interested in preventive healthcare so that might be another focus area for me”, Jonna states. Her ideal future would be where she could work as a part-time vet while managing the farm.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Secure the selection with GenVikTEST

By genomically testing your heifers and cows on the NTM scale with GenVikTEST from VikingGenetics, you will receive the world’s best and most reliable evaluation for health and fertility traits.

GenVik genomic test is the perfect tool to help you select the best heifers in your herd to secure
your success and only breed on the most healthy and productive cows for next generation. It will
give you reliable breeding values for all profit making traits including the unique Nordic health
traits like hoof health, mastitis resistance, fertility and general health traits, such as reproductive and metabolic diseases, for your Holstein, Red and Jersey cows.

Genomic breeding values have higher reliabilities than pedigree index, and to be successful in the genetic progress of your herd the best tool to use is genomic selection. Using genomic selection on your females together with X-Vik sexed semen on your top heifers, will ensure you the highest possible progress of your herd. For the lower ranked females, you can use conventional semen and beef semen.

Genomic test of females shows results

Bernt and Cecilia Bengtsson in Sweden have tested all their females genomically on NTM-scale since 2012. By only selecting the top females for breeding to make more accurate mating plans, they have seen a great improvement in all economic important traits. The farm’s current production level is 13.100 kg milk with a mix of VikingRed and VikingHolstein in their herd (110 cows). “We believe genomic test of females is the only way to increase a long term economic benefit in our dairy business”, says Bernt.

GenVikTEST gives you:

• Updated indices every month for three years on NTM scale
• An excellent selection tool to optimize your breeding program on herd level
• Optimal genetic progress when combining NTM of your females with Viking sires

Learn more about GenVikTEST and how to order

Friday, 7 July 2017

PEOPLE WITH PASSION - Talent Behind The Scenes

The Digital Ladies of Marketing Team

VikingGenetics has it's marketing team split up between Finland, Denmark and Sweden. There are seven people in total working with marketing and here we present you the core people of our digital operations; Johanna Vuori (FI), Tanja Damsgaard Ask (DK) and Uliana Kovaleva Langeland (DK). VikingGenetics is strengthening it's foothold on social media and many of the marketing strategies are now planned just for digital channels. Everyone in the marketing team contributes to digital marketing but these three ladies are the ones organising the material and content production, and also making the posting schedules for all digital channels used. VikingGenetics is using multiple digital channels e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube.

In the below picture Johanna (left), Tanja (behind right) and Uliana (front right) are having an afternoon meeting at our Assentoft (DK) offices about transferring the news from VikingNews Magazine to social media postings.

Tanja Damsgaard Ask - Marketing Assistant

"I have worked for VikingGenetics for 12 years and I still love my job. Over the years, my job has changed a lot and that is why it is still interesting. I have good colleagues and we have fun every day at work. My tasks include mainly the production of our magazine “VikingNews”, posting planning for social media, video editing and a bit coordination in connection with shows."

Johanna Vuori - Digital Marketer

"I joined VikingGenetics only in May this year so I'm quite new to this business. My background is not with dairy farming or cattle breeding at all so there's a lot to learn about this industry! I have an MBA in marketing and most of my previous jobs have involved around digital marketing and using social media as a marketing channel. My current tasks include being the webmaster, planning and executing the social media marketing and designing our marketing campaigns with the rest of our team. I'm very excited to be part of the VikingGenetics family - it truly is a great place to work."

Uliana Kovaleva Langeland - International Marketer

"It has been a bit more than one year that I have worked for VikingGenetics and I enjoy it a lot. I like that our company is very dynamic, and we have a lot of opportunities to learn new things every day and develop our skills. I am originally from Russia but I have lived in Denmark for the last 5 years. I also spent a few years in Taiwan working with marketing. My key tasks are preparing marketing materials, helping us understand different markets and our competition, working on our marketing and branding strategy."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

First VikingGenetics flush contract in Norway

For the first time ever, VikingGenetics has recently entered a flush contract on a Holstein heifer in Norway. The heifer first came to Norway as an embryo from a Danish herd. This Danish herd has now entered an embryo contract with the purpose to buy some of the embryos from this flush. The heifer is now 7 months old and will be flushed in the autumn. She is the highest ranking heifer in Norway with NTM +33 (pedigree Abel x Balisto).

This herd is owned by Arild and Hanne Hellend. They are very focused on breeding and are passionate about their Holstein cows – and happy about having a heifer at this high level.

In general, the interest in genomic test on females is growing in Norway and there are already a number of Holstein heifers ranking high on NTM. The best are on the same level as the best Holstein heifers in VikingGenetics’ three home countries.

Learn more about genomic test of females as a management tool in the latest issue of our magazine VikingNews page 15.