Roen – a World-class Norwegian Red bull from Rindal

Time to read: ca 6 min

Introducing Roen 11690, a prominent Norwegian Red sire that has been occupying the top podium of the official bull rankings in the United States (CDCB – December 2020 and April 2021).

Photo of Norwegian Red bull 11690 Roen
Norwegian Red bull 11690 Roen. Photo: Jan Arve Kristiansen
By: Øystein Syrstad, TINE

The seven-year-old bull was born and raised in Rindal, the northernmost part of southern Norway, and currently producing high-quality semen for Geno in its breeding and genetic facility, in Store Ree, Norway.

So far, more than 50,000 doses of his semen have been sold to all corners of the world; including Turkey, the US, Pakistan, China, Israel, Australia, Ireland, UK, and Argentina. “Although we no longer offer Roen here in Norway, after the December 2020 Proof Run evaluation result was released, we are seeing increasing demand for this bull from our key markets including in the US”, explains Kate Stai, Chief Commercial Officer for Geno and Norwegian Red.

Roen has a Total Merit Index breeding value of 27 and scores high on several characteristics: specifically milk volume and cheese index have impressive results. Roen has also produced daughters with excellent milk production with bountiful milk volume, fat, and protein.

Geno was quick to acquire Roen as a bull calf

Roen was born on January 13th, 2013 on the farm Nestu Røen in Rindal, the center part of Norway. He was born to a Norwegian farmer, Lars Inge Røen, who has owned his farm since 1976.  Honoring the farmer’s family name, Røen was the initial name given to the bull calf, but it was then modified to Roen for easier pronunciation internationally.

Lars Inge does not have many memories of Roen’s birth, but he remembers perfectly that it did not take long for Geno to send a signal that they would buy Roen shortly after his DNA sample was taken. Roen was between three and four months old then.

“I have sent in samples from several calves, but no one passed the test until Roen. I remember I received good compensation for selling Roen to Geno”, says Lars Inge

Interestingly, Lars Inge has never used semen from the bull from his own herd, since inbreeding was always a concern. Lars Inge uses the Rindal expression of "gøtt" or “the great one” when he describes his thoughts on breeding a world-class bull, although in his opinion he thinks it was purely coincidence. It is also important to note that all Norwegian farmers are taking active part of the national breeding programme in Norway, and with the access to data and information, farmers trust Geno to select and acquire the best bulls based on broad genetic evaluation of thousands of NR-animals, that in the long run anticipate the needs of all farmers.

100 percent Norwegian Red breed

Lars Inge has always been interested in managing the healthiest possible herd with cows that milk well, particularly for characteristics such as milking speed, conformation and hoof health.

“Animals with bad conformation are considered undesirable in the barn”, says Lars Inge, who selects which bulls to use himself, and uses only conventional semen. The heifer calves are mostly raised to dairy cows, while the beef calves are sold as livestock. “A few years ago, I tried Milk Simmentals, to get a little more slaughter weigt, but it went badly. The calves became large which caused trouble during calving compared to easy calving with Norwegian Red” he added.

Started with two cows, a heifer, and a calf

A lot has happened at Nestu Røen since Lars Inge took over in 1976. Since the first tractor came to the farm, and the "start-up capital" was still very modest; Lars started with two cows, a heifer, and a calf. Today, 45 years later, there are 65 dairy cows in the barn, plus young animals and calves. Two barns were built in 1978 and 2016, in addition to a new farmhouse and tool shed. The soil has been well-cultivated and the available milk quota is now 560 tonnes, with a feed base of 60 hectares, both owned and leased, which is used in its entirety for grass production.

After moving into the new barn, the production continued to increase, which today is about 8,500 liters per cow per year. The cows are milked by a robot, on average just under three times a day. Production at the beginning of 2021 has been great for Lars Inge since TINE (the national dairy company) continues to increase its demand in milk quota.

Producing flawless milk continuously for the last 25 years

It is not just the amount of milk that has increased in Lars Inge’s herd, but the milk quality has also been top-notch. In 2011, Sølvtina or the Silver Tin, a Norwegian dairy association program recognizing farmers producing elite milk for 25 years, was awarded to the farm, and now 10 years later, he and his wife have been awarded with the honor for delivering elite milk.

“It is about being present, taking good care, and following up everything in the barn, and I do most of the barn care and maintenance myself. After I got the robot, it surely has become easier to keep up with milking, including  somatic cell counts. On the other hand, though, I noticed that bacteria has become somewhat higher since the robot was installed”.

Active producer environment

Våronna on Nestu Røen, which idyllically sits 300 meters above sea level, normally starts harvesting in the first half of May. In a normal year, there are two harvests, but in some favorable years, he has managed three. In addition to hired help for driving manure and round bales, Lars Inge is responsible for the work himself with his own machineries.

In Rindal, there is an active agricultural and farming environment, and in recent years many new barns have been built in the hamlet. Lars Inge is pleased that there is optimism in the dairy industry in the area.