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9 Dec 2020

Meet Søren Borchersen, Chief R&D Officer of VikingGenetics

Long before VikingGenetics was founded by the cattle breeding cooperatives of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, there was a man who had already started a journey to improve farmers’ daily lives. Søren Borchersen, our Chief R&D Officer has true credentials to be an authority for Research and Development in the cattle breeding industry. 

Research and Development have played a vital role at VikingGenetics since its foundation over 10 years ago. Many achievements in genetic selection for cattle breeding are possible thanks to a dedicated team that saw the importance of R&D. 

Søren Borchersen’s passion for discovering ways to make dairy farming easier and more profitable started as a child. He grew up helping his parents at their dairy farm in a small town called Oens, in Jutland, Denmark.

“We had a small farm, and I caught the “cattle fever” as a small child. Today, I live at the same farm”, he says. His family are not farming but they are renting the fields to a dairy farmer, so he, his wife Anna and their three children can still enjoy the views populated by cows in the landscape.  

A long and fruitful journey

Educated as an agronomist with a Masters of Agriculture Science from Copenhagen University College, he got his first job in the 80’s as a local breeding and feeding adviser. Among other things, he oversaw making mating plans at the herd level. He says: “Talking to farmers opens your eyes and ears, which is very important if you want to help them”.

Søren has had many different positions in the cattle breeding industry. Through visionary hard work, he became Secretary for the East Danish Artificial Insemination Association, and after that Secretary for the Danish Cattle Breeding Association.  He also improved his skills with a diploma in business administration, specialised in organisation, strategies and project management. 


Many milestones in the industry

His main experiences of external collaboration with think-tanks, biotechnological companies and universities come from his days as Head of the Breeding Department at SEGES (Knowledge Centre for Agriculture).  

Søren has also been a first-hand actor at many of the milestones in the cattle breeding industry, like when the genomic era began. “We built an international semen project in genomics. There was a lot of discussion in the 90’s about how to consolidate it”, he recalls. 

Recruited by the new AI cooperative

When VikingDenmark and Växa Sverige merged to form the international cooperative VikingGenetics in 2008 (Finland joined in 2010), Soren was recruited by the board to be the head of the new R&D department. 

One of the first challenges was to implement the sexed semen production. “We got a contract in 2005 with ST, and we were the first cooperative in Europe that made that kind of contract”, Søren says proudly. 

His passion for making dairy farming easier and more profitable is contagious at VikingGenetics. The R&D team runs different projects with the single goal of improving dairy farming. 

As a leading science-based AI cooperative, we invest a lot in cooperation with universities. This decision has allowed us to be the drivers to pull all research together to benefit the farmers.

Søren Borchersen,
Chief R&D Officer

Devotion to research

Nowadays, one of the most valuable projects is related to feed efficiency in cattle breeding. “Feed efficiency is one of the most economically important traits for dairy farmers. It is sufficiently heritable to respond to genetic selection. Our outcome will be to have one of the most reliable indexes in this area,” explains the head of R&D.

Søren’s efforts are also focused on his work in EuroGenomics. This forum aims for cooperation across AI companies and cooperatives to increase reliability in cattle breeding. The EuroGenomics Cooperative consists of eight members representing nine countries.

He was elected as the Chairman of EuroGenomics in 2017. He says, “The main purpose is to exchange phenotype harmonisation. The idea is to standardise trait definitions within countries into a ‘Gold Standard’. This work we do is always focused on the farmers’ benefits.” 


Nordic collaboration at the top level

“As a leading science-based AI cooperative, we invest a lot in cooperation with universities. This decision has allowed us to be the drivers in pulling all research together to benefit the farmers”, he says. The collaboration with universities and institutes continues to be fruitful.

VikingGenetics R&D department works in close cooperation with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Aarhus University and Copenhagen University, both in Denmark, as well as the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE). “We work as one in the Nordic countries; our collaboration is at a top level,” Søren adds.

Being surrounded by papers, scientific studies or research of many different cattle breeding topics does not separate him from the true origins of his work; he keeps the dairy farmers in his mind every day.