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Bart and Martina Luijten farm 440 cows in Winton, Southland New Zealand. For Bart and Martina, it is all about having fun farming with their family and enjoying the lifestyle of a dairy farmer.

Bart does not originate from a farming background but has always wanted to work with animals and studied animal livestock production in Holland, before moving to Southland in 2004 and working his way up in the dairy industry.

Previously in a partnership milking predominantly Friesian cows, the Luijtens got their herd seven years ago which is when they began their Three Way Cross breeding programme.

 

 

Barts dream cow lasts a long time, is a pleasure to work with and is beautiful. “The best cows are the ones you don’t notice, they are low maintenance and hide amongst the herd.”

The herd currently produces around 570 avg ms per cow and Bart aims to extend their lactation as far as possible and push peak performance up by keeping grass quality high and feeding their herd well.

With a largely Friesian base, the Luijtens decided to begin crossbreeding around seven years ago first with the VikingJersey. They are a little bit different than the traditional New Zealand Jersey, the VikingJersey is a lot more milky type, they have good udders on them and they last a lot longer as well as being very efficient with their live weight to production levels. With great results, Bart and Martina decided they needed a third breed to ensure they could maintain a high level of heterosis.

“I looked at other industries like the pig and poultry industries and noticed a lot of them used crossbreeding a lot in their programmes. The benefit for me is I can use any bull from any breed and I don’t need to worry about inbreeding. It is all about maximising the heterosis effect that comes with cross-breeding, breeding healthy animals that last for a long time.”

 

Bart began introducing the VikingRed four or five years ago and always had a small number of VikingRed coming into the herd, those cows gave him the confidence to keep going with it. This season 1/3 of the calves coming in are all VikingRed sired.

“The VikingRed are a good animal, they have a good physical appearance, good udders, and we use medium statured sires to keep a nice medium-sized cow. The longevity, the health and the fertility coming from the VikingGenetics animals is great. You don’t have to cull them on bad udders.

They are very efficient in terms of their live weight to production levels and there is nothing better than a pretty red cow, you can’t beat them. You can just see with the VikingRed that they keep getting better every lactation, they just seem to continue to take that next step up.”

The VikingRed have a lot to offer the many crossbred herds in New Zealand and make the perfect third breed to help maximise the effects of heterosis and pull in great additional health and fertility traits. We are excited to see these herds continue to perform and grow in the years to come.

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