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29 Apr 2020

ProCROSS Tour USA February 2020

In February 2020 our colleague Henrik Hansen, VikingGenetics Germany, set out on the ProCROSS trail together with customer Anders Kirch. The week-long trip to San Francisco, California had a tour group of 30 interested people from a wide variety of countries around the world. They were all interested to learn how the ProCROSS phenomenon came about.

The origin of the three-breed cross lies in Oakview, California. In the 1990s, the US had significant problems with the level of inbreeding of Holstein cows, which is why several businesses united to form 'Creative Genetics' and find solutions to cross-breeding issues. They undertook a range of experiments with various breeds and after three years of tests, came to the conclusion that the most efficient cross was a mix of three breeds: the Holstein, VikingRed and Montbeliarde. The majority of these original farms still operate in the region today and the tour participants were given the opportunity to visit some of these pioneers.

After a long flight arriving in the late afternoon, participants checked into their hotel and were given the rest of the day off. The next morning though, they were off to the first farm early in the morning.

The farms they visited milk between 1,400 and 2,200 cows. The animals are kept in 'paddocks' whose dimensions are so great that we are hard put to grasp their full extent. A barn with feeding alleys provides shade and shelter, and the vast paddocks that stretch into the distance 'confine' groups and still provide plenty of room for each animal. Milk yields for the herds are all around 12,000 kg ECM.

In connection with their first visit, participants listened to a presentation by Stephane Fitamant of Coopex Montbeliarde, in which he described the uses and advantages of the Montbeliarde, both as a breed and as part of ProCROSS.

In the evening, participants gathered for supper and were able to discuss what they had seen as well as exchange their experience of farming.

The third day saw the participants travelling to an agricultural show, where there was much to keep them occupied all day long. The ProCROSS stand allowed visitors to glean a wealth of information and there was plenty to discover at other stands too.

The next day began early with a ProCROSS presentation delivered by some of the founding fathers of the ProCROSS system. They talked of its beginnings and early teething troubles, described the separate steps of the study and revealed the findings of their research.

This gave participants a close-up view, turning the theory into handy and tangible facts.

Following this came a visit to two different ranches with similarly impressive numbers of animals. Here the information heard in the previous stages could be observed in its practical application.

The final day took in three more ProCROSS businesses, before the group headed home.

“The animals all looked fantastic, and despite the enormous herds, the cows were not particularly prone to illness”, Hansen extolled.

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