Prosperous breeding made by strong women 

It is quite common for women to be in charge of the breeding plan in dairy farms in Finland, one of the VikingGenetics countries. Women have been doing this for decades, and there is no reason for this to change. 
We met one of these powerful women in dairy cattle breeding, Anuriikka Lallukka, who manages a herd of 70 cows, 80% VikingRed and 20% VikingHolstein, together with her husband Markku.

“When I was six years old, I announced to my family that I would be an agronomist when I grow up,” Lallukka says with a big smile on her face. “I never did, but I did study to become an agrologist. I was never supposed to be running a farm either, but here I am,” she adds.  

Her story of becoming a mother of two and running a farm with her husband starts from an urban setting when she finished school and got her first job on a farm. She spotted a young single farmer, and the rest is history. 

The couple has been together for almost 20 years now. At first, she kept her job as a breeding advisor for Faba (Finnish Animal Breeding Association, the Finnish owner of VikingGenetics) when she moved to the farm. She also worked as a dairy farm advisor. They started to build the new barn in 2010 and there was a need for her to work full time on the farm. 

Her grandparents had a small farm where she spent most of her summers, and that’s why she has always felt herself to be a farm girl, even though she grew up in a city. Running a farm with her family has always been very natural for her. When it comes to breeding and developing the herd, this is her domain, while Markku focuses more on farming, machinery and general farm management, such as feeding. 

Lallukka sees no special advantages in being a woman and making breeding decisions; it all comes down to the natural abilities and interests of the couple running the farm. “The most important thing is to divide the tasks and duties, so we are in balance. It is all about cooperation and partnership. We discuss important choices together,” Lallukka says while her husband agrees. 

When making decisions concerning breeding choices, she trusts her own judgement but always consults with their breeding advisor from Faba. The teamwork with the breeding advisor has worked very well; in seven years, the herd has developed a lot. The Lallukka farm’s goal has been to breed healthy, robot suitable and high producing cows – the invisible cow. They also do a lot of genomic testing on their heifers, as they are part of the VikingGenetics LD project where farmers are supported by VikingGenetics in genomically testing all females in the herd. 
When asked if she has any favourite bulls, she says: “Peterslund has been my all-time favourite. His offspring have always been high producing, healthy and easy to manage. Absolutely the invisible cows we want,” Lallukka says. “Peterslund has been one of the most best-selling VikingGenetics bulls of all time. 


“Attached to the cows”

The Lallukka couple have achieved their goals through hard work, careful planning and making tough choices regarding culling of animals. The culling of animals is not Lallukka’s favourite thing to do. “I get easily attached to the animals,” she admits. Lallukka adds that this is her biggest downfall when it comes to breeding and farm management: “I always find it very emotional and sad when we have to let go of cows that have been with us for a long time”. 

This attachment to animals has always been a part of her nature ever since she was a child. Having said that, there is a hidden strength in this caring attitude. “My grandmother, Aini Rytkönen, told me that if you are good to the animals, they will be good to you too. This is very true and I have always acted accordingly. AI technicians, vets and other visitors are always very surprised to see our herd – the cows are so well behaved and friendly and that makes it very easy to manage our herd,” Lallukka explains. 

Facts about the Lallukka farm:

  • Cows: 70
  • Open barn with one milking robot, built 2010
  • Production average 9,400 kg
  • Fat 4.4%
  • Protein 3.6%

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