Thirty-five farmers travelled to Austria for a four day trip on September 8, reports JIM HAMILTON.
On day one we visited Gleisdorf A.I. Centre. The group saw all the bulls including G.S. Vollwert and G.S. Zocker, two bulls which are currently being sold at SQ Fleckvieh Genetics.
Valmart’s dam Bloni is regarded as one of the best breeding cows in Austria. She has four sons in AI by different bulls and gave 13,500 litres in her third lactation. On a recent visit to see Bloni the group travelled 50km up the mountain to the highest farm in Austria, 3,500 ft. above sea level. She was standing in a 14 cow byre grazed by day and housed by night on round bale silage. Silage wheeled in and manure wheeled out and spread on the hillside by hand. I asked the farmer how he handled the round bales on the hills, and his reply was every bale is caught coming out of the baler as it would disappear.
We then travelled to the Fredl Farm. They are milking 70 cows through a robot milker with a herd average of 12,200 litres. They use Genomic Bulls on all heifers and first lactation cows. Vollwert is their Genomic choice and Pandora is number one choice for the mature cows.
On day two we visited three farms, first was the Harner Farm. They kept 50 cows averaging 10,975 litres at 4.22% Fat and 3.55% Protein with a 365 day calving interval milked twice a day. His cows were all of a type medium sized cows, milk, strong feet and legs and excellent udders. He sold all his bull calves for 600 Euros at six weeks old.
Next was the Breitenbrummer Farm. He milked 32 cows averaging 8,410 litres at 4.54% Fat and 3.66% Protein. Again he had medium sized cows with super udders. He has sold several young bulls to AI this year. Perhaps that is why there is a new Deutz tractor in the shed that cost 120,000 Euros. His main bulls that he used were Vollwert, Symposium and Pandora.
The third farm was the Scheweighofer Farm where they milked 54 cows averaging 8,710 litres at 4.15% Fat and 3.45% Protein. This was a show herd and he had the Austrian champion in 2014. His main sire in the past was GS Rau and he is now using Pandora.
Then on day three we went to the AI Centre in Hahengell where we were joined by 50 Dutch farmers. The bull parade was first with Ivan, an excellent bull for conformation, feet and legs. Some of the other bulls we saw were Vulkan, Evergreen and Voltaire which has matured into a very nice bull.
Peter from Genetic Austria then gave a presentation in relation to the Fleckvieh breed. Austria has about the same cows as Northern Ireland approximately 300,000. In 2014 Austria exported 40,000 in-calf heifers and heifer calves. He said they were selling semen to 70 countries around the world. Then at 12 o’clock a five minute drive to the show in Reid. There were over 100 Fleckvieh cows at the show. The three heifer classes were dominated by Wille daughters. They were big milky heifers with excellent udders.
A Wille daughter went on to win the Championship. In senior classes the 5th and 6th Lactation cows were in peak fitness with yields from 10,000 to 12,000 litres. After the show there was a sale of 10 elite heifer calves and six bulls. The calves peaked at 4,500 Euros but the bulls were the stars of the show. The six bulls averaged 25,000 Euros with a top of 32,000 Euros. The first two sons of Symposium were sold for 25,000 Euros each. Like their father they had excellent milk, Fat and Protein with high udder scores and should be AI Bulls of the future. That evening we had dinner provided by Genetic Austria.
Day four was homeward bound. On our way to the airport we called into the farm where symposium was bred. This was probably the highlight of the herds we saw on the trip. His herd average was 10,000 for 50 cows. They were fed on a very simple system, a TMR mix of 50% maize silage and 50% red clover silage and 8kg of meal fed to all cows. No parlour or out of parlour feeders.
The cows were averaging 35 litres per day. He was asked if he was not over feeding the stale cows. His reply was he was probably under feeding the high yielders but when he was drying off the cows they were yielding 25 litres. He showed us the Symposium family. He had two very good half-sisters both 10,000 litre cows with excellent udders.
We saw Symposium’s mother on show the previous day where she stood second in a very strong class of mature cows. She gave 11,000 litres in her fourth lactation, 5% Fat, 3.8% Protein. We saw seven embryo calves from her on the farm, by Pandora. The bull calf was bought for the Republic of Ireland. She is currently being flushed and embryos will be available for sale in Northern Ireland.
Two members of the group purchased two cows, both classified excellent with very good with 10,000 litre yields and 5% Fat and 4% Protein. Then it was off to the airport and home.
‘A most enjoyable trip with great cows’ – was the view from the group.