The Norwegian Red Bull 12222 NR Skoien has emerged as a top contender in the Geno breeding program, establishing itself as one of the most popular new bulls in the breed. With its breeding values published last year, the bull has maintained a stable position as number one in the rank for Total Merit Index (TMI) in Norway, making it a preferred choice for dairy farmers worldwide.
According to Line Borgerud Skøien and Ole Hjerpaasen, who bred 12222 NR Skoien, the bull has always stood out for its unique personality and impressive physical attributes. "As a bull calf, he was very nice looking and grew faster than any others," she said. Her dam is now in 3rd lactation, she is a healthy and nice conformed cow with a daily production of 40 Kg of milk (123 DIM). In her 2nd lactation, she produced in 305 days 10.237 Kg milk at 4.65% fat & 3.60% protein.
Line and Ole come from a family of dairy farmers that has been in the business for five generations. They purchased their farm in Hølen, south of Oslo, in 2001. Originally a tie-stall facility, they recently completed a new modern loose housing barn in October 2022, complete with a milking robot installed. Despite the challenges of upgrading their facility, Line and Ole were pleased with the smooth process and reported that all their cows easily adapted to the new system, with none needing replacement.
The barn is designed with the welfare of the animals in mind, with ample space, proper ventilation, and a focus on creating a comfortable environment for the cows. With 12222 NR Skoien leading the way in the Geno breeding program, the Skøien family is well positioned to continue their legacy of producing top-quality dairy cattle for years to come.
Line and Ole are passionate about breeding Norwegian Red bulls and use the support of the Geno mating plan to help them make their selections. As firm believers in the benefits of technology, they genotype all of their female calves to improve the accuracy of their breeding decisions. "We believe that technology has helped our industry to make improvements, and we like to take advantage of it," says Line.
When selecting new bulls, they place a great deal of focus on calving ease, as it is crucial to ensuring their cows have the best possible start to lactation. "We want our cows to have the easiest and most stress-free calving experience," adds Ole.
We have identified some indicators that help Line and Ole succeed in managing the farms after spending a significant amount of time observing their entire herd. Here are some key takeaways we can draw from our observations:
- Their herd displays an impressive level of uniformity, consisting of medium-sized, robust dairy cows with great consistency.
- Their cows have excellent udders, which has helped to facilitate a smooth transition to the milking robot.
- None of their cows have experienced lameness, with claw trimming being done twice a year.
- The cows also have an excellent temperament, which is important for both their own welfare and that of their handlers.
- They have achieved a good balance between younger and older animals, with their oldest cows currently in their seventh lactation.
Line and Ole assert that the Norwegian Red is an exceptional dairy cow, not only because it represents their native dairy breed, but also due to its practicality in terms of management and financial considerations. The breed has experienced remarkable advancements in the past two decades, positioning it as a high milk yield cow with unparalleled fat and protein content when compared to other dairy breeds.
The herd's health and fertility are self-evident from the figures below:
Moreover, Norwegian Red’s fertility and health remain impressive attributes, and its conformation has also greatly improved. The modern Norwegian Red is a medium-sized, robust cow that is easy to handle, requiring low maintenance yet yielding high output. “Overall, a kind of cow that many dairy farmers like to deal with every day”, say Line and Ole.