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Herd strategy in 4 steps

Take care of every step in creating the future of your herd.

4 step strategy

How can you achieve guaranteed progress in the profitability of your dairy herd? The first thing is to ask yourself: how well do you know your herd?

  • Which animals in your herd have the biggest genetic potential?
  • What kind of semen doses should you use?
  • Should you buy livestock to supplement your herd?
  • Can you get additional income from using beef doses?
  • How can you ensure you use the best-suited sires for your animals?
  • How can you maintain the development of your herd?

All these questions are answered by using the 4-step strategy. It is a simple process in which we guide you through all the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.

The steps are:

1. Analysis
2. Evaluation
3. Action plan
4. Implementation

Read more about the individual steps below.

Step 1: Analysis

Achieving the best outcome for your business requires a careful assessment of the farm’s goals and market conditions.

Our advisors will conduct a detailed herd analysis based on the current performance and condition of your herd.

Step 2: Evaluating options

Based on the analysis, you will be given recommendations on how to use the herd management tools to add value to your business and improve cash flow.

To develop the optimal genetic strategy, a lot of factors need to be considered. Together with you, we will find answers to:

  • What is the reproduction performance of the heifers and cows in the herd?
  • Are surplus heifers causing bottlenecks in your operations?
  • What is the optimum number of heifers the facilities in your farm are designed for?
  • Should you consider selling excess heifers as an additional source of revenue?
  • Should you use beef-on-dairy and what proportion of inseminations should be made for beef to achieve optimum results?

Click (+) to see an example with an overview of different possible strategies of using sexed semen and beef-on-dairy and the effect on the bottom line.

For example, for a Holstein herd with 200 cows, the strategy with a combined use of sexed semen (2 services: sexed semen on all heifers and 50% on 1st parity cows) and 70% beef would bring around an extra 44,000 AU$ in profit per year compared to using just conventional semen. 

Using too much beef semen can cause problems, as you risk having sufficient replacement heifers to sustain the herd. Profitability drops significantly if the proportion of beef semen is increased to 80% and 90%.

 

Conv. only

50 %

60 %

70 %

80 %

90 %

Replacement rate %

31.9 %

-1

-2

-4

-7

-8

Calvings

232

-2

-5

-9

-26

-38

Sold calving heifers

29

-10

-17

-24

-28

-29

Sold bull calves, dairy

114

-68

-76

-83

-91

-96

Sold cross-bred calves

0

+80

+97

+111

+120

+126

Youngstock

202

-24

-44

-65

-96

-122

Extra profit

-

$ 38,210

$ 42,360

$ 44,400

$ 32,400

$ 8,740

Key benefits:

  • Higher genetic gain
  • Lower rearing costs – due to fewer dairy heifer and bull calves
  • Increased profit from beef-on-dairy cross calves

Step 3: Action plan

The next step is to develop your herd’s genetic strategy. Our advisors help you define your goals and identify which solutions can best support your strategy:

Genomic test

With genomic testing we assess your herd’s genetic level and help you make more accurate decisions. We will categorise your heifers and cows into different breeding strategies and ensure you focus on the right replacement heifers for the next generation.

  • 40+ genetic traits evaluated
  • 50% higher reliability than with pedigree information
  • secure genetic progress

Sexed semen

Using X-Vik sexed semen on your best heifers and cows will optimise the genetic progress in your herd. It ensures that you have a 90% chance of getting a heifer calf from your best females.

Beef-on-dairy

Your lowest-ranking animals can be bred to beef semen, producing crossbred calves of higher slaughter value than dairy bull calves. This means you exclude the poorest genetics from future dairy production animals.

With these breeding strategies, you can achieve higher genetic progress and a higher return on investment.

Step 4: Implementation

Now that you have your herd’s genetic strategy in place, the next step is to select the bulls and make a mating plan.

Our web-based herd improvement programme, VikMate, makes it easy to tailor matings to your herd’s unique goals.

VikMate:

  • Evaluates more than 40 different traits in each animal
  • Controls inbreeding for up to 6 generations
  • Enables optimum use of genomic test results

We will create a complete mating plan for you and help optimise the genetic progress. Our breeding advisors will continue to support you.

"We chose the middle ground"

“Based on the herd analysis, we can see which breeding strategy is best for our herd. We had already started using beef semen, but the calculation showed us the potential in using even more beef semen on the herd.

We have now started using 50% beef semen, with enough heifers to maintain the same replacement rate in the herd.

Using the analysis, we investigated the potential in using 30, 50 or 70% beef semen on the cows. We chose the middle ground, i.e. 50% beef.”

Kasper Clausen,

638 cows, Denmark

Would you like to know more?
Send us a message and we will get back to you.