Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Cross-breeding gives us more freedom


In 2006 Karen and Leighton Hart in Western Victoria

made the decision to start crossbreeding as they were sick of year round calving, sore feet, to much mastitis and low conception. Today, Leighton is using VikingGenetics and has a once a year calving program again, which gives them more freedom!

Karen and Leighton Hart started farming in 2004 with a Holstein herd of 340 cows based on North American genetics. Due to a poor conception rate they induced and PG all cows and heifers and still ended up calving all year round.

In 2008 they heard about the three way cross breeding program called ProCROSS through Steve Snowden and Anna Norgren from VikingGenetics Australia. As a start Karen and Leighton decided to order 500 doses of VikingRed.

Karen is the calf rearer and she says: "The 2007 calving was so bad and we had to use electric blankets and lost a lot of calves. The 2009 calving season when we had our crossbred VikingRed x Holstein calves I can’t remember a lot, which means that there were no problems. The calves fed better and none got sick".

The first cross breed heifers came into the milking shed in 2010 and VikingGenetics Holstein sires were used, mostly VG D Sol. This resulted in lots of heifer calves, and the calving season in 2013 was also fantastic according to Karen. Karen especially comments that the calves were small but seemed to be much stronger and really took off.

Breeding goals for 2014
The Hart family’s plan is to use more VikingGenetics sires in the future "If you don’t get cows in calf you don’t make milk and that is our livelihood. As a result of using the ProCROSS three way crossbreeding program, we are getting good solid cows with low cell count, stronger feet and no mastitis and just a good functional cow", Leighton points out.

"Proofs on VG sires are based on very reliable data and ProCROSS is an excellent three way cross. We like the VikingHolstein sires because they breed cows that are not too big and they don´t get noticed in the milking shed. They are simply invisible cows".

We see the difference on the bottom line
Leighton states that the biggest difference is that the three ways cross bred cows are producing more kg of milk solids. "I have cows weighing 450-500 kg producing 550 kg milk solids. Any cow that is producing below their weight is culled. Protein has increased from 3.1% to 3.6% and fat also increased significantly to 3.6%. First lactating heifers are peaking at 1.9 kg milk solids and stay there for 80 days. It means they are easy to get back in calf again as they are not stripping their body fat when peaking in lactation. They seem to hold on better", Leighton finishes.

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