Oulton House Farm - less diseases and higher production with ProCROSS

The Oulton House Farm´s philosophy is plain and simple: get lots of milk from healthier cows, as the manager of the farm, Sally Lea sums up.

Ten years’ crossbreeding experience has shown them the path to achieve outstanding results. The farm has 430 autumn calving cows utilising grazing as much as possible, and is owned by Arthur Palmer. It stands out from the average performance herds in the United Kingdom for both health and production.
Sally Lea, who is also a veterinary nurse, says we have very low number of cases mastitis at the farm, a huge advantage if you consider that there are 32 cases of mastitis per 100 cows in milk per year in the UK - according to the NMR (National Milk Records) study from 2017. In the meantime, the average lameness at farm level in the UK is 22% in an average performance herd, but it can be 42% in the worst performing herds. These numbers are considerably lower at Oulton House farm “with less than 5% cases of Lameness” quotes Sally. 
Sally Lea, manager at Oulton Housefarm, Newport, Shropshire. The farm has 430 ProCROSS cows. 
 The high health quality of the herd is not the only reason why Oulton House Farm stands out from the crowd, their production figures are something they are also very proud of. Sally explains that last year, they had an average production of 9,412 Kg milk, while the average in the UK (England + Wales) according to NMR is 8,430 kg milk. 

Oulton House Farm has a win-win situation that reflects on the bottom line; saving money thanks to lack of health related treatments, and having income from a high yield production

The exceptional performance at Oulton House Farm has not been achieved by accident, it is due to a substantial change in their breeding strategy that Arthur Palmer made 10 years ago.

 Author had a pure herd of Holsteins up until 2008 when he started using some Vikingreds to cross on some of his cows to see what difference it would make. He noticed within the first lactation that these crosses with Vikingred had enhanced milk production and that they had little problems with lameness or mastitis. “They actually produced more milk then the Holsteins and were back in calf with no problems” Sally states. Since then Author, with the help of Sally and two other employees have committed to cross breeding and have been selecting the best bulls from Vikingred, Vikingholstein and Montbeliarde since 2015. 

Future plans for the herd

After starting to use ProCROSS, mastitis and lameness problems reduced and the percentage of cows having those issues dropped. “When we are selecting traits, we choose mainly those related to production because we know we have the health traits already, that´s why we are committed to crossbreeding with ProCROSS!” Sally adds.  

Their plan now is to increase the number of cows from 430 to 450 and are now using more sexed semen to only breed from the best cows and utilize using more beef semen. 

The farms conception rate is 47% on a rolling 12-month basis with an average of 1.7 straws per pregnancy. The replacement rate is 20% and these heifers will calve in July, the cows start calving in August. Grazing is an important factor for this herd and weather permitting they try to have the cows out between February and November. 

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