Follerbakken Holstein Herd in Denmark

Meet Ella and Soren Kaae, who have 240 Holstein cows in their herd, situated close to Frederikshavn in the very north of Denmark. Soren is third generation on the farm. He and Ella took over the farm in 2004 and immediately built a new barn. The production is 13,211 kg ECM, which is the 12th highest yielding Holstein herd in Denmark. 
Soren and Ella Kaae, Follerbakken Holstein
This is due to a lot factors, according to the owner couple. They really haven’t focused that much on production in their breeding strategy, but on longevity and health. Follerbakken used to have a high culling rate – among others factors due to worn out mattresses and slippery floors. During spring 2015 they put sand in the cubicles, and the floor then turned more safe. This reduced the number of lame cows dramatically, and both production and reproduction results improved:

“Seeing how the cows changed behavior after the sand was added to the cubicles, was amazing. Straight away we saw how well they felt”, Soren says.
The owner couple then changed the mixing system for the feeding – originally the change was made to keep costs down, but this initiative also showed in production. And finally, separating the cows in groups made a positive impact. From video analyses, it was obvious to Ella and Soren that the old cows dominated the young ones, and so they were split in two groups as they are today:

“It is so much calmer in the barn today with a much more homogenic herd, and now that we know the replacement rate the cows will not be introduced to as many new cows as before”, Ella explains.

The couple is not that much into studying the bulls in detail so the part of selecting bulls for the mating plan is made by the breeding advisor Jorgen Buur. Together they have made a strategy for the herd. In Follerbakken, they test all heifers genomically and use X-Vik semen for the very best animals.

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