Friday, 9 January 2015

Kirk has success with Viking sires in Zimbabwe

Agriculture and milk production have had big changes in Zimbabwe during last decades. Number of dairy farms has dropped after the land reform program and the number of dairy cows is down to about 30.000. But Ajs Kirk has 500 cows with many generations of Viking sires.

I Zimbabwe private farm bulls are used widely and only 25-30 % of the cows are in AI. Most of the farmers want only pregnant cows but they are not willing to pay about good genetics or they think AI needs too much work.

Ajs Kirk has the best and one of the biggest herds in the country. Ajs’ father Volle arrived from Denmark to Zimbabwe before the land reform program 40 years ago and started farming close to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Ajs continued his father’s work and he milks nowadays about 500 cows. Almost all of the cows are crossbred. Ajs has for years used almost only Viking semen and he has got very good results with them. "We use VikingHolstein and VikingRed. In VikingRed we try to find Danish, Swedish and Finnish bulls with different pedigrees, so we can use them like rotation and get the benefit of heterosis." This means that different breeds are used alternatively and the breeds work well together.

Deep bodied cows with capacity
The average milk production in Ajs’ herd is 8500 kg milk / cow / year with 4.0% fat and 3.4% protein. The average calving age for heifers is 24 months. "We use mostly calving ease sires but calvings have never been a problem when we have used Viking sires" says Ajs. The cows are in TMR system and the most common food is corn silage. Also ryegrass is used. The cows have lot of capacity and they have deep bodies. This gives them a possibility to eat and produce a lot.

Own dairy factory
All milk is used in their own dairy factory, where they produce cheese, yogurt and ice cream. The milk they produce is not enough for the dairy factory, so they buy milk also from two other dairy farms. The quality of milk is very important, so the main breeding goals are udder health and components. Udder health has been very good in these conditions with Viking bull daughters. The average SCC has been below 200.000 and treatments for mastitis are not needed.

Sexed semen and good calf management
"Our plan is to increase milk production and during next few years we will have at least 600 cows in production. Using sexed semen we can get more heifer calves and get more cows." Ajs tells. Good management of calves is very important. Ajs has built new systems for calves to get them strong and well developed. "Good beginning for the calves is the base for good production in the future".

Ajs Kirk with his homemade calf pens.  The pens are moved daily so that the calves always have clean bedding and new grass.

There are many S Adam daughters in Ajs Kirk's herd. S Adam was used as X-Vik in Zimbabwe and at the moment Asmo Sale and Asmo Tosikko heifer calves by X -Vik semen are being born.

R Gazelle daughter by Ajs Kirk

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