January 17, 2023
Collaboration aims to streamline UK dairy producers' import of cattle from 'Viking' countries
Breeding company VikingGenetics UK has formed an exclusive collaboration with livestock importer Best of Breed Livestock (BBL) in an arrangement designed to simplify and streamline the importation of livestock from so-called 'Viking' countries by UK dairy producers.
Following many years spent working together, the two companies have entered into this arrangement which sees all of the VikingGenetics breeds imported to the United Kingdom exclusively through this route. It paves the way for easier importation of the high health status and top genetic merit animals for which Denmark, Sweden and Finland are renowned.
The collaboration comes in response to the high demand in the UK for Scandinavia's Viking-Red, Holstein and Jersey breeds, as well as ready-made crossbred cattle. This includes the ProCROSS – a three-way cross which alternates the Viking-Holstein, VikingRed and Montbéliarde breeds.
The rising popularity of cattle produced through this structured breeding programme has led many UK producers to import crossbreds, rather than wait for three generations to convert their own Holsteins into a ProCROSS herd.
This way, they obtain the instant benefits of heifers and cows that contain the three complementary breeds which have been proven to knit well together, be easily managed and have lower costs of production and higher profitability than the pure Holstein.
Similarly, other producers are importing the ready-made GoldenCross which comprises a three-way rotation of the VikingRed, Jersey and Holstein breeds. This cross has been developed for farmers operating grazing-based seasonal calving systems, many of whom are keen to build strength and add hybrid vigour and production in their herd by bringing the third breed into an existing two-way rotation.
Owen Daley, managing director of BBL, said the Nordic countries now dominate his importing business thanks to their high health status and abundance of high-quality stock.
"The Nordic countries are light years ahead in terms of health status, and UK producers – whether restocking after a health breakdown, just improving their stock or changing breeds – find it much easier and more satisfactory to meet their needs from this source, especially when high numbers are involved," he said.
He added that the process of acquiring stock will typically start with farmers seeing pedigree, performance and genetic records, then creating a shortlist from there.
"UK farmers will then either choose to travel with us to Scandinavia to select the animals themselves, or leave the final selection to us," he said. "Either way, they are assured of a quality of stock they would struggle to find elsewhere."
Matt Stott, VikingGenetics UK and Ireland country manager, said: "We're delighted to have cemented our collaboration with Best of Breed Livestock as our businesses working together – supplying livestock, semen and breeding advice – can speed genetic progress in UK herds.
"By tapping into genetics from the Nordic countries – renowned for their long-term focus on health, production, fertility and ease of management – we are confident we can improve efficiency, profitability and lifestyles for UK producers."
- Darlington and Stockton Times