Monday, 20 October 2014

I owe all that I have got to my cows!

By Elisabeth Avendaño

As representatives of VikingGenetics in Argentina, we often get favourable comments to the per-formance of the daughters of the VikingRed bulls.

In Argentina dairy-farmers tend to complain eternally about low milk prices and the difficulties to make ends meet in the dairy business. The main problem until recently has been to look too much at the pro-duction of liters per day or per acre, totally ignoring what some vets call “the hidden costs” of the dairy, referring to fertility problems, high frequency of mastitis and extremely poor longevity in many Argentine dairy herds. Fortunately there is a growing awareness of the need to improve these traits and there is an increasing trend of crossbreeding all over the country. 
Improving functional and longevity traits in Holstein herds with Jersey has been an ongo-ing process for quite a few years already. When crossing these breeds in Argentina, mostly with high-producing American Holstein and Jerseys, the main intention has been to try to avoid calving problems in the Holstein cows. Production of these first crosses is often high, and calving’s tend to be easy. But farmers complain that the udders often do not hold up and that the male calves are not attractive for the production of beef.
  So it is really uplifting to hear all the positive remarks about our VikingRed that minimizes calving and fertility problems, gives better beef quality and long-living cows with excellent udder health.

Better life and milk price with red cows 
Heart-warming were the comments that we got the other day from Ernesto Garnero - a hard-working dairy farmer who has been using VikingRed genetics for over 10 years. Ernesto began milking a few cows together with his wife Cristina on his father-in-law’s small farm, some 20 years ago. The herd grew and they were milking 150 Holsteins when they heard of the Swedish Red breed and bought two bulls from us (80% of Argentine farmers use private bulls). The Garneros soon fell in love with the calves of the Swedish Red bulls and today their herd consists of only daughters of red bulls. 
The Garneros do not aim for cross breeding, but are so happy with the offspring of the VikingRed bulls that they are going for the pure red breed. “The red bulls changed our lives,” they say. “Now we don’t have to pull any calves, we can sell surplus heifers at a good price and although we do not have time nor space to fatten our own steers, the bull calves are very much sought after by neigh-bors who have feed lots and appreciate their rusticity and fast growth”. 

When I asked Ernesto what he thought of the milk price, he did not start the usual com-plaints. He maintains that of course the price could be a bit higher, but thanks to the high solids and low cell counts of the VikingReds, the price they get is quite good. Besides, the functionality and longevity of the VikingRed daughters, the heifers and bull calves that they are able to sell, makes the family effort worthwhile and they are able to continually invest and improve on machinery and installations for their animals. 
  “This way we can live and work all together here on the farm”, Ernesto says, “and I never forget that I started without any capital at all, and that we owe all that we now have to our cows....”  

“The VikingRed bulls changed our lives. Now we don’t have to pull any calves and we can sell surplus heifers at a good price” Ernesto Garnero
First calvers

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