Making fast progress with an embryo herd strategy

The Rinnes have a very clear picture of the genetic capabilities of their cows and using embryo flushing for their best females makes perfect sense on their farm. In 2004, they bought five embryos and got five heifer calves from them. To date, they have made over 70 embryo transfers and produced over 40 calves from them.
Pasi Rinne and his wife Miina Kuusimo-Rinne are dairy farmers in Finland, who use embryos as a development strategy for their 120-head herd. When there is no room to physically expand a farm, the genetic improvement of the herd with well-considered breeding strategies becomes very important.  The couple has been part of VikingGenetics’ GenVik project, where Viking supports the genomic testing of females, since 2014. The herd consists of 60% VikingRed and 40% VikingHolstein, and they use embryo flushing for both breeds.

They have also bought five Danish Holstein embryos and all the pregnancies from those embryo transfers have been successful, producing three heifer and two bull calves. From those embryos they have two amazing heifers – Maahanmuuttaja gNTM +30 and Mamu gNMT +26. The heifers have had embryo flushing done on the farm and in a single day, 33 high-quality embryos were collected. “We were a bit surprised with the number when we heard the results,” Pasi Rinne says
Most of the collected embryos were used in their own herd but some were sold. One bull calf born from Maahanmuuttaja’s embryos was bought by VikingGenetics, VH Oonsun (VH Optimal) gNTM +32.

The dam of these heifers is from the herd of Lykke Andersen I/S, Denmark. She is on her fourth lactation and has been flushed four times and produced 53 embryos. VikingGenetics has also bought bull calves of this dam for the VikingHolstein breeding programme. 

Production of solids in focus

They also have one Jersey heifer on the farm, which comes from a VikingJersey embryo and resulted in a beautiful heifer calf, Oregano (VJ Rodme x DJ Logo). “She is so beautiful,” says Miina with a broad smile and continues, “we want to increase the production of solids and are therefore very interested in adding more VikingJersey cows to the herd”.

The breeding strategy on their farm has heavily focused on longevity and production. They have clearly achieved that goal as over 30 cows in the herd have reached the 50,000 kg limit of which 17 are still part of the herd. Now that longevity has been achieved, Pasi and Miina are turning their focus to solids.   

Pasi has a long history of working with Ayrshire cows as his family farm always had them, but he doesn’t favour one breed over the other: “I like to see the cows’ performance and nature as individuals without being biased based on the breed. A good cow is a good cow no matter what the colour”.
Miina is of a different opinion. Her answer is unequivocal when asked her favourite breed. “I have always been a Holstein girl”, she says. Miina and Pasi have seven children. “Let’s see if one of them wants to take over the reins here one day,” Miina says.

Flushing contract with VikingGenetics

VikingGenetics has sought to purchase some of the high NTM (Nordic Total Merit) heifers for the VikingEmbryo – programme, but Miina prefers to have a flushing contract with VG. “I have nursed and cared for them since they were babies. They are my pride and joy, so I don’t want to sell them.”

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