Tom and Paul Riches in Western Victoria, Australia, have seen a tremendous improvement of fertility, health, body condition and longevity since they changed from Holstein to ProCROSS in their 400-cow dairy herd.
Tom and his son Paul Riches practice seasonal milking on rough grass country with supplement of hay and concentrates. Like all cows in Australia they are on pasture year round. "The Holstein cows definitely have large potential to milk. But the more we feed them the more they lose condition and poor fertility was an increasing problem for us", Tom and Paul say. "In the Australian Dairy Farmer magazine we read about the positive results with ProCROSS in American herds, and after more studies we decided that was the way to go for us".
No worries about calvings anymoreTom and Paul started using VikingRed on the Holsteins and then Montbeliarde over the first crosses. "The results have exceeded our expectations. We don’t have to worry about calvings anymore - no matter if it is a VikingRed or Montbeliarde cross / AI-sire used - and we never get up at night like we often had to with the Holsteins. The cross bred calves have a great will drink and get off the ground which we appreciate very much.
Much better body condition and longevityThe health and longevity of the ProCROSS cows is just unbelievable: they get in calf much easier, they are much better in keeping their body condition, and they do not drop out like Holsteins. We also got rid of mastitis and deliver premium milk all the time with average cell count at 150,000 and currently 95,000", Tom and Paul emphasize. 47% of the VikingRed x Holstein cross cows are still in the herd after their 7th calving where only 11% of the Holsteins are still there. For cows in their 6th lactation the figures are similar with 54% VR x MO still in the herd versus only 26% of the Holsteins. The much improved longevity will leave them with a surplus of almost 100 heads of females next year.
1.5 doses less semen per pregnancyAnother positive effect of the improved longevity is the fewer semen doses per pregnancy. On average they use 1.5 doses less to get the crosses in calf than the pure Holsteins. In that way they reduce the breeding costs with 25-30 Aus$ per cow which equals the value of 10 kg milk solids (fat + protein). Tom and Paul have used some VikingHolstein sires when they breed the MO x VR x HOL crosses. The main criteria to the Holstein sires in the cross are high milk, positive components and good udders.
Almost the same production"The production in kg milk solids we find is almost the same as per kg body weight. Maybe the production is a little higher on the VikingRed crosses but we are exceptionally pleased with the Montys. They may look smaller when they first calve as heifers, but the more mature they get, the better they are. They hold the body condition extremely well and the udders are strong. First we worried about the white heads of the Montys leading to pink eye disease, but now we’ve had the Montys for 6-7 years and it’s been no problem at all", Tom and Paul finish off the interview.
|Paul and Tom Riches with their herd of 400 ProCROSS cows.|
|Good udders on the ProCROSS cows.|
|Hay is fed as supplement in low-grass periods.|
|Two-way ProCROSS 4th lactation cow (Orraryd x HOL).|
|Two-way ProCROSS 3rd lactation cow (Botans x HOL).|
|Three-way ProCROSS 1st lactation heifer (MO x VR x HOL.|