Meet Huw Edwards, a dairy farmer at Gwaenynog Farm, located just outside Denbigh in North Wales. Huw oversees the farming of 500 acres and tends to a herd of 410 milking cows. What sets Gwaenynog Farm apart is its innovative approach to crossbreeding, particularly incorporating Norwegian Reds from Holsteins.
Crossbreeding with Norwegian Red
In 2016, Huw and his team at the farm were on a quest for healthier and more compact cows. After diligent research, they discovered that Norwegian Reds could be the solution they were looking for. Local AI companies supplied the necessary semen, and since then, there has been no turning back.
The impact of introducing Norwegian Reds into the mix has been significant. Fertility, longevity, and calf figures have all seen improvement, leading to healthier and more productive cows overall.
Looking towards the future, Huw discusses the farm's current three-way crossbreeding system, involving Holsteins, Norwegian Reds, and Jerseys. This strategic combination ensures a balance of yields, health traits, and components, contributing to the farm's success.
Transforming Calving and Grazing
When questioned about opting for autumn block calving, Huw clarifies that his choice has not only simplified management but also lowered labor demands. The Norwegian Reds crossbreds, renowned for their fertility and adaptability, align more effectively than Holsteins with autumn block calving.
Huw emphasizes the importance of having a cow that can navigate the fields with ease. Norwegian Reds fit the bill perfectly, being not only fertile but also agile. Their ability to calve quickly and produce ample milk, particularly from grazing, aligns seamlessly with the farm's objectives.
The winning formula
Gwaenynog Farm's adoption of Norwegian Reds through crossbreeding has brought about a positive transformation. The combination of Holsteins, Norwegian Reds, and Jerseys, along with the strategic choice of autumn block calving, has proven to be a winning formula for the farm. As they continue to witness success with their current system, the future looks promising for Gwaenynog Farm and its innovative approach to dairy farming.