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11 May 2018 - Victoria, Australia

VikingGenetics is improving dairy life through Fertility First

VikingGenetics Australia is launching an innovative solution to improve the reproduction rate for dairy cattle. Fertility First can save up to 200 AUD per cow/ season and is now available for the Australian dairymen.

As the leading cattle-breeding company from Scandinavia, we continuously investigate cutting-edge products and services for our clients. In Australia - where our first subsidiary is located - we are now offering Fertility First as a progressive management tool to provide a seasonal increase in calf rate, while saving up to 200 AU dollars per cow/season.

With Fertility First, you can achieve higher Six-week in-calf rates from Artificial Insemination (AI) sires and can impregnate more cows early in the season with the females you know will become pregnant. The future of your herd begins with the fertility of your cows.  Fertility First is a progressive tool that, when combined with a breeding strategy for better daughter fertility, is a win-win investment.


An important pre-check

Fertility First consists of a pre-check before the Artificial Insemination period starts to guarantee that the selected cows are the most likely to become pregnant. This information is very important for the farmers nearing season calving because they need to have large amounts of heifers and cows inseminated and pregnant in a very short period.

“With this new service, we aim to assist the farmers and improve the reproductive work as to tap the real potential within the existing herd. The economy in a dairy operation depends largely on the stocking rate of the herd and cows calving at the right time. With a seasonal calving pattern, it is important to have a high in-calf rate”, Anna Norgren, Business Manager VikingGenetics Australia explains. 

The solution VikingGenetics is offering can make a big difference for the Australian diaries and represents a practical way to tackle fertility problems. According to the InCalf Fertility Data Project 2011, fertility in Australian herds has been declining over the last 10 years:

  • 6-week in-calf rate dropped by 1 % per year
  • Submission rate declined by 0.6 % per year
  • Conception rate declined by 0.7 % per year

“Our strategy to approach this challenge resulted in an intensive project where 2,500 cows in 10 herds were involved”, Norgren, explains. The herd size considered in the study ranged between 100 and 500 cows. “The farms were randomly selected and were not necessarily linked to VikingGenetics, which increases the credibility of this project”, Norgren adds. 


Scandinavian “know-how”


The project was made in 2016 and led by the Swedish breeding advisor Magnus Johansson. The outstanding results led to a structured strategy that was later named Fertility First.

“Fertility First provides the farmers with an insight to the general status within the herd and, moreover, a platform from which decisions can be taken. When able to track individuals having a congenital abnormality that makes her less attractive to AI, a better-planned strategy when selecting bulls can be achieved”, Magnus explains.

The Nordic countries have a long tradition of utilizing collected data when breeding for better daughter fertility. Daughter Fertility index in Nordic Total Merit (NTM) describes bull´s daughters’ genetic potential to start or resume heat cycle after calving, to show oestrus and to conceive at insemination.


Magnus developed a structure to provide the Australian dairymen with the same principles of trust and reliability that rules the Scandinavian breeding philosophy. In this order, all the cows were classified in five different categories: Cystic cows, Problem cows, Non-cycling cows, Do not AI (or “Cured cows” in need of veterinary assistance) and Ready AI (Artificial Insemination) or cows open for AI.


Scientific approach

Two different approaches for a fertility service were investigated: traditional and proactive. The traditional approach concerns a rectal examination of non-cycling cows at the start of joining season, while the proactive approach consists of two rectal examinations of all cows in the herd before the start of joining season. The proactive approach resulted in 30% of cows classified as “Cured cows” ready for Artificial Insemination.


The results achieved by checking the category ”Problem cows”, followed by recommended treatment, can enhance 30% more cows that are ready to AI and therefore higher six week in calf rate compared to the traditional apprach. By checking the “Problem cows” category and following through with recommended treatment, 30% more cows can be ready for AI during the calving season. This results in a six week increase in calf rate compared to the traditional approach.


In conclusion: The in-calf (pregnancy) rate from AI is 75% for the proactive approach and 52% for the traditional.  An important economic advantage is, “The daughters of Holstein AI-bulls would be 200 AUD more profitable per cow/year, than daughters of herd bulls,” Norgren adds. 

“We are eager to start with Fertility First with our expert Angela Wilson, who has been working in cattle breeding for more than 20 years and has accomplished a special training in Denmark a few weeks ago”, Norgren says. “Breeding for improved cattle reproduction is now easier with Fertility First!”, she adds.