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He's Using Fleckvieh Cattle To Improve Holstein Herd
With 30 percent of today's Holstein bloodlines originating from just two bulls, it's no wonder that Holstein herds are having problems with everything from fertility to feet. Albert Nyhof thinks Fleckvieh bloodlines from Germany might reinvigorate the breed so the Manitoba dairyman has been importing the dual-purpose dairy/beef breed embryos and cross breeding with his Holsteins.
"Fertility is now a problem in the Holstein breed," says Nyhof. "High producers are likely to get mastitis, too. The Fleckvieh breed has very high fertility and a very low somatic cell count. They breed back easily, and the calves are stronger than Holstein calves."
Nyhof is working with Bavarian Fleckvieh Genetics to introduce the breed into Canada and the U.S. for both dairy and beef operations. Unlike North American Holsteins, which have been bred exclusively for milk production, the Fleckvieh was bred for both meat and milk. "They produce as much as 24,200 pounds (11,000 liters) of milk on a 305-day lactation with protein levels as high as 3.8 percent on some farms in Germany," notes Nyhof.
The Fleckvieh is an offshoot of the Simmental beef breed that developed in Switzerland. Both are dual use animals in Europe, but while Simmental breeders specialized in beef traits and meat production, Fleckvieh breeders selected more for milk.
"The breeders wanted an animal that wouldn't lose a lot of meat during production," says Nyhof. "That's why they reproduce so well."
He also likes the breed for its ability to handle high-energy rations. He hopes that characteristic will aid his Holsteins, already the fifth highest producing herd in the province. Nyhof milks his 130 to 140 cows three times each day and averages 26,325 lbs. of milk (13,000 kilos) of milk in 305 days.
Introducing Fleckvieh bloodlines into North America will do more than just improve dairy herds in the U.S. and Canada. It is also seen as an insurance policy for Fleckvieh breeders in Europe, says Nyhof.
"Germany is sending it best bloodlines to spread its genetics and protect against the effects of a foot and mouth disease outbreak," he explains.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Albert Nyhof, Box 761, Ile Des Chenes, Manitoba, Canada ROA OTO (ph 204 878-2686; fax 204 878-2689).


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2003 - Volume #27, Issue #1