“My only regret is that I didn't adopt the ProCROSS system sooner” 

The family business

André is a fifth-generation farmer in Rantrum, a small village of 1,800 inhabitants not far from Flensburg. He has been a full-time farmer at his home farm for eight years, with a herd of 260 dairy cows which includes both Holstein and ProCROSS animals.
 
In 1996, there came the move to a farm slightly further from the village centre and in 2019 the family constructed a new barn. Since this move, André keeps his cows on pasture; and after dairy, the biogas plant has become the family's second source of income. A number of people carry out the daily work of the farm: André's wife, an uncle, his parents and a part-time worker.
 
The cows are milked in a 20-swingover milking parlour, which was commissioned as part of the 2019 new construction on the farm. It replaced the two milk robots, which in a final step were moved to the old barn complex. The herd's current production output is 9,200 kg milk with 4.6 % fat and 3.8 % protein.
ProCROSS or not?

Whilst André’s grandfather ran the farm with red dual-purpose breeds, his father had Holstein cattle only; and André felt the need to reconsider. Having listened to a lecture on ProCROSS, he determined that he would look more closely at the breeding programme. In 2012, after an in-depth investigation, he came to a decision: he would start using ProCROSS. “My father, who had run the farm for a long time, agreed with the decision”, says the farmer.
 
In the early stages of changing to this breeding programme, he used VikingRed bulls.
In order to achieve optimal results in his breeding aims, André chose bulls according to their performance criteria. Key factors were milk components, fertility, maternal calving ease and performance, so he initially chose the R Balfa and A Linne bulls.   
 
André has now progressed to adding Montbéliarde to the mix, too. He purchased an additional 80 ProCROSS animals and 40 VikingHolsteins from Denmark which, after a referral from Henrik (of VikingGenetics), he obtained from VikingLivestock. At the NORLA trade fair, André came into contact with breeding consultant Henrik at the VikingGenetics stand. Henrik put him directly in touch with VikingLivestock, and André purchased the cows from them. He describes the animals as ‘extremely good-looking’ and says they are ‘truly productive’. 
 
Henrik too is pleased that, by passing on contact details, he was able to help André towards such a successful structured programme. Smiling, the VikingGenetics breeding consultant says that ‘supporting farmers in their projects is a matter that is close to his heart, even if he wasn’t directly involved’.
 
There are now some F1 generation ProCROSS animals in André’s herd, as well as a few F2 generation cattle. When we visit, he has only positive words for the follow-on generation, “They're very fit, and fertility and hooves particularly good. What’s more, the calves are much quieter and more relaxed, in general easier to handle.”
Future wishes and challenges

Going around the farm together, we asked André about his wishes and expectations for the future. He stated that it was his intention to extend the farm complex, adding a new calving housing facility, more room for dry cattle and a concrete surface for storing feed.
 
In terms of breeding, he plans to increase the stock to around 300 cows (+40). In general, his aim is around 9,500 - 9,800 kg output with the same constituents and an average of 50,000 kg lifetime performance.
 
His breeding objectives continue to feature a concentration on milk components, calving ease, daughter fertility and of course performance. Currently he is implementing his plans by using VR Elektro, VR Boris and VR Fanof P bulls, as well as the Montbéliarde bulls Neutrino and Manhattan.
 
André considers consumer trends to be the number 1 factor influencing his business.
Increasing environmental protection measures, veganism and the topic of animal well-being will in future pose additional challenges to the farmer, but he feels well equipped to face them, thanks to the ProCROSS breeding strategy.
 
The ‘but’

“Of course, the decision to restructure the breeding programme also has a negative side”, says André. But this turns out simply to be a regret that he didn't opt for ProCROSS sooner. He also wishes that he had used sexed semen. “I would be a lot further along the line with the cross-breeding”.
 
VikingGenetics is pleased that André has joined their customer base. We wish him all the best in the future and look forward to many more years of cooperation!
 
Facts:

Name: André Reimer
260 cows
On pasture
New 2019 barn with 20 swingovers
5th generation family farm in Schleswig-Holstein, Rantrum district, Germany
Has used ProCross for 8 years
Current production output: 9,200 kg (4.6 % fat, 3.8 % protein)
Bull selection according to: milk ingredients, fertility, maternal calving ease, performance

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