“In our barn Mastitis is 1% in average, and we are happy with this” 

Erik Dolby and his wife Anne-Marie have been breeding for a medium sized cow at Fuglsøgaard farm in Denmark and as a result of this strategy, they are now increasing production while decreasing diseases in their herd.
Fuglsøgaard farm is owned by Erik Dolby and his wife Anne-Marie and located in the Central Jutland region of Denmark, around three kilometres inland. The farm produces 12,880 kg milk on average per cow and uses the milk parlour system (side by side with fast exit). For several years, Dolby has focused on breeding for medium size Holstein cows and today he can see the results of this breeding strategy. Dolby is pleased with the performance of the herd when it comes to production and the health status of his cows. 

“When choosing bulls, we go for the ones that breed medium size cows, and this is because optimal size cows are easier to manage for our employees. We have become better at feeding the cows, so they grow bigger and through breeding, we are able to compensate for this trend and achieve the cows with the size we aim for.” This focus on size has been particularly important because of their barn system, as the pens are not suitable for cows that are too big.

Dolby explains that at his farm they consider medium cows offer a lot of advantages, including excellent health and a longer productive life. “On our farm we like to see healthy cows that look well. Mastitis frequency is 1% on average, and we are happy with this,” he says.

He also reports that lifetime production has increased in recent years and explains that the reason is that cows have become stronger in the body. What is more, smaller cows mean fewer problems with hooves and stronger feet and legs in general. Another important benefit of focusing on medium size in the breeding strategy is easy calving. The herd uses 100% X-Vik in heifers and this results in excellent calves with good size. For cows, calvings are also very easy.

Regarding the breeding strategy, the herd also focuses on improving health. “We are sad when we are forced to cull cows because of health problems. This is now a very rare occurrence, cows stay in the herd and produce well, and we are very satisfied with these results.” Dolby also mentions that hoof health has improved a lot and farm employees perform hoof trimming on animals. There is no occurrence of disorders such as sole ulcer. 

Better profitability and easy to manage herd

Dolby emphasises that focusing on medium size is beneficial in terms of better profitability and the cows are easy to manage. “Our cows are easy to take care of and it is pleasing to walk through the barn and see all the cows are doing well and none has health problems because they are too big.”

Future breeding goal at Fuglsøgaard farm

The future breeding goal will stay focused on breeding for a Holstein cow that is moderate in size and maintaining the heavy focus on improving udder health. “We are aiming to increase time in production by one more year and achieve 15,000 kg milk average production per cow per year and with an average lifetime production of 50,000 kg milk”, he states.

Fuglsøgaard farm proves that giving medium size and health a high priority in the breeding strategy definitely yields excellent results. Most importantly, this investment in genetics pays off more and more with each generation of cows, and with the consistent focus on improving specific traits over time, the improvement in herd performance is easy to see. What is more, genetic improvement is permanent and does not require any extra effort from dairymen.

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