With falling milk prices putting a strain on profitability there has been an upsurge in the number of dairy farmers turning to crossbreeding with Fleckvieh to increase margins per litre explains David Hazelton, UK and Ireland Agent for Bayern Genetik.
The dual purpose Fleckvieh breed made its debut in Northern Ireland in 2004, and has grown in popularity ever since.
In 2006 Fleckvieh registrations in Northern Ireland totalled 666, and in 2014 the figure increased more than tenfold to almost 7,000.
“Profitability in milk production is not just governed by producing large volumes of milk per cow. It is the profit margin per litre that counts,” added David Hazelton.
“There is no point in having a fantastic herd average if every litre produced is costing you money. Farmers have very little control over the farmgate price, except to shop around for the best available deal from the various processors. This is something that cannot be rectified overnight because of contracts etc.
“However, by having a herd of truly dual purpose cows farmers can have an extra income from the beef side of the equation. German and Dutch farmers estimate this equates to a figure of seven to nine Euro cents per litre.
“On numerous occasions I have heard farmers say that since changing to Fleckvieh milk production has decreased slightly, but that they have a lot less trouble and get great satisfaction from working with virtually trouble-free cows, and more importantly have reduced overheads and more money.
“This message is reiterated by farmers throughout the UK and Ireland who have been crossbreeding with Fleckvieh for several years.”
The Fleckvieh breed continues to grow in popularity, with vast numbers of females and service age bulls being currently imported from the continent. Semen sales are increasing year on year at a dramatic rate with stock from the leading Bayern Genetik headline bulls Passion, Reumut, Waldbrand, Round-up and Zauber all featuring heavily on the shopping lists of the major importers.
The immediate future looks very promising for Bayern Genetik with Reumut increasing his milk figure +811 leaving him equal number two on theTMI list. He also boasts the highest udder score of 124 in the top ten (April 2015).
Reumut is joined in the top ten by stable mate and newcomer Veteran, a bull suitable for producing first-cross daughters, increasing milk solids and improving udders. His figures include milk +374kgs, fat +0.04%, protein +0.05%, fitness score 124, and udder score 120, leaving him with a total TMI 129.
David Hazelton added: “Bayern Genetik is the largest Fleckvieh AI stud in Europe, and prides itself on marketing daughters of proven sires with above average indexes for beef and milk. The company aims to produce strong and durable dual-purpose cows, and with an unrivalled selection of daughter proven sires available, many with more than 10,000 daughters in their proofs, we feel that commercial milk producers can have more confidence in using these highly proven sires, rather than relying on genomic tested sires.”
He continued: “The customer is always right, and if anyone requires genomic bulls I will only be too glad to import them as a special order. We do not market bulls in Great Britain and Ireland that are not well above average for udder score.”
Plans are at an advanced stage for another trip to Holland and northern Germany on 14th to 17th September 2015. During the four-day trip farmers can inspect herds being managed on several different systems similar to those in Northern Ireland.
Anyone interested in joining the trip should contact David Hazelton on mobile 07841 748764. Book early to avoid disappointment.
*The NI Fleckvieh Club is hosting a meeting in Dungannon Rugby Club on Tuesday 23rd June at 8.00pm.
Guest speaker is Neil Shand, chief executive, British Simmental Cattle Society, who will explain the pedigree and grading up registration systems and costs.
All Fleckvieh enthusiasts are welcome.