Jakob Lykke Voergaard is our new Senior Breeding Product Manager for VikingRed. Voergaard (41) is married to Annette, they have two girls Rebekka (7), and Nikoline,(4). He was raised on a farm with 35-45 Holstein cows in the east central Jutland in Denmark. Even as a child, he liked to be surrounded by the cows and working in the barn. His first contact with breeding advice was when he was a teenager: “I would always want to be the one who met and talked with the breeding advisors when they visited my parents,” he recalls.
Before starting on the road to becoming a breeding advisor by studying Animal Science at University, Voergaard spent a year in Australia. “I worked with sheep and driving tractors as milking cows was something I had already done plenty of at my parents’ farm,” he laughs.
Voergaard completed his five-year Animal Science degree at the University of Copenhagen, specialising in breeding. Shortly afterwards, in 2008, he joined VikingDenmark, as an advisor.
“Around half of the farms I visited as an advisor had VikingRed cows. That was when I first came in contact with this breed, and fell in love with the philosophy behind it; they are cows that are easier to work with, they may not be the highest producers, but they are so healthy, that they are as profitable as you can get,” he says.
Voergaard now heads the VikingRed breeding goal at VikingGenetics. He officially took over the reins as Senior Breeding Product Manager on 1st January 2020, but had been covering the area since June last year. Voergaard says he wants to continue improving the breeding goal for VikingRed of his predecessor Auli Himanen, who retired this year.
There are three main areas he takes care of; firstly the coordination with Export markets, which includes all VikingGenetics home markets: Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, plus all VikingGenetics subsidiaries in Australia, the UK, and Germany, plus the other global markets.
His second main task is managing the coordination of the breeding programme, especially when it comes to choosing the best bulls. “Many animals have an overall profile, our top bulls can be sold in many different countries, but of course, we need to have specific bulls for specific country requirements. We need to be sure we have all that our farmers want to have,” he says.
His third main task includes cooperation with various red breed associations in the three home markets along with associations and international partners around the world.
“My vision is to continue making the red breed “greener”, as sustainability has become more as a crucial component of future dairy farming, and we have a cow that can adapt best to different climate scenarios.”
The VikingRed population on the home markets adds up to 204,115 cows, and production figures show that, on average, they milk 10,045 Kg ECM (305 days). The average fat percentage is 4.35%, with 3.50% for protein.
VikingRed cows have proven to be more resistant to diseases and are renowned for their excellent health, easy calvings, remarkable fertility, and functional conformation.
VikingRed bulls rank high in top international lists, and they are prominent in the pedigrees of many top bulls around the world. A high proportion of the semen from VikingRed sires is used in the ProCROSS concept, the only scientifically proven crossbreeding programme in the world.