Denmark's top three high-producing herds - Torben Thorsen

Meet Torben Thorsen - Owner of Denmark’s highest yielding mixed herd.
What is your focus when breeding?
I select bulls based on NTM (Nordic Total Merit Index), and they need to have a high production index – preferably around 120. I also focus on mammary. We have a high lifetime production in this herd, so our cows need to be able to last one lactation longer here than with the average dairy farmer and good udders are therefore important. I have had high improvements in production and increases in lifetime production by breeding for NTM. I have used beef for cows with the lowest NTM and still use this for approx. 30% of the cows.

How can VikingGenetics makea difference in your herd?
I have focused on the Holstein breeding goals for reproduction, but looking at the financial aspects, it is much more expensive to cull a cow due to high cell count or poor feet and legs. After all, a cow that is culled because it does not become pregnant has still produced milk one or two years after calving and has reached a good slaughter weight compared to cows that you cull for other reasons. We also aim to focus on teat placement. I have milking robots and therefore I prefer breeding for good teat placement and suspensory ligaments. Plus, it will be very interesting to see the financial benefits of feed efficiency when this index is launched.

Having the highest producing herd – what challenges do you see when it comes to reproduction?
Actually, I do not have any major challenges. A few years ago, I decided to do insemination 90 days after calving and I noticed that the pregnancy rate increased. Previously I had to dry off cows that produced a lot of milk, and then thought I might as well milk them for a few more months.

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