Grazing with Fleckvieh From the highest milk production in by ijr12069


									18                      DUAL PURPOSE

Grazing with Fleckvieh
From the highest milk production in Manitoba to the most profitable one
Stef Beunk

             Everybody thought it was impossible to keep dairy cows outside the whole year, even during the strong
             Canadian winter. But on Nyhof Farms in Manitoba they proved the opposite. „We built a new barn without
             a roof. It was the best decision we made since years for the health of the cows as well as for the bank
             account“, the Nyhof family says.

             On Nyhof Farms a small revolu-         looked for a different way of far-    of the lactating cows outside the
             tion has taken place during the        ming with low input and – if possi-   whole year. Still there were no
             last years. For some years the 60      ble - even higher profit. And they    problems, though the temperature
             cow Holstein herd of the Nyhof fa-     found a solution: To keep the herd    reaches from +30°C during sum-
             mily had the highest milk produc-      outside the whole year. „We star-     mer to -30°C during winter. Last
             tion of all dairy herds in Manitoba:   ted 5 years ago with our young        winter we kept our complete herd
             12.700kgs of milk per cow (three             ,
                                                    stock” Albert Nyhof explains.         of over 200 dairy cows outside, as
             milkings per day). This achieve-       „They stayed outside summer and       well as the young stock that was
             ment brought about a lot of satis-     winter. Without any problems and      older than one year. The cattle had
             faction but also the other side of     in good health. Three years ago       no problems at all. In the coming
             the medal became evident: stress       we decided to keep the dry and        years we want to improve the
             for cows and the Nyhofs, huge ve-      pregnant cows outside, too, for       system and add a shelter for ice
             terinary costs, huge feeding costs.    the winter. We provided them a                           ,
                                                                                          rain and blizzards” Albert Nyhof
             That’s why Albert and his wife Wil-    dry straw bed to lay on and a wall    says. „Though the system is far
             ma, together with their sons John      of straw as a shelter. Two years      from optimal at the moment, eco-
             and Henry and Gladwin Laing,           ago we started to keep also some      nomically seen last year was the

             Feeding facility

                                                                                                           FLECKVIEHWorld 2006
                                                                                             DUAL PURPOSE                                    19

best year of the last decade” John
adds. Last but not least the new
system gave them the opportunity
to increase the number of cows.

The cows walk over
10 kms per day
For the Nyhofs themselves, proba-
bly the most difficult thing about
this new system was to get used
to the lower milk production of the
cows. From 12.700kgs per cow it
dropped to 8.000kgs per cow - two
different worlds. „But the new
system has lots of advantages” Al-
bert says. „Costs have minimized,
profits per cow have increased,
the cows have less stress and it
gives us more time to do the work
on the field” Meanwhile the Ny-
hofs started crossbreeding with
Fleckvieh. What they saw with
their own eyes in Bavaria (South
                                             On Nyhof Farms all cows are outside the whole year – even during the strong Canadian winters.
of Germany) convinced them to
proceed on their new way.
Fleckvieh seemed to them to be
the ideal crossing partner to get            „A Fleckvieh cow can stand the                  from one to two hectares. Also
the healthy, strong and efficient            heat and the cold much better                   they plan to fence in more pas-
cows they needed for their new               than a Holstein cow because of                  tures. „Of course also the grazing
management system.                           her three times thicker skin.                   management needs our attention,

„We saw dual purpose Fleckvieh               They produce the same milk as
cows in Bavaria that produced                the Holsteins and during the heat
milk and beef on a high level with           period they nearly do not drop in
superb health traits. And now we             milk production, while the milk
see that it works. Our Fleckvieh             production of Holsteins collapses.
crossbreds are aggressive gra-               Last but not least her thick skin but at the end we can cope all the
zers, with a huge mouth, with                protects the Fleckvieh cow also work with our own people easily.
strong feet & legs, that are first in                                .
                                             better against the flies”          And last but not least you have to
the milking parlour and first back                                              keep in mind the low costs and the
on the fields again” Albert Nyhof            Cows do most of the work,          extra profit you have with this sys-
says. The circumstances at Nyhof             we have the profit                 tem: less problems with feet &
Farms are not always comfortable.                                               legs, better fertility, lower veteri-
Cows have to walk up to 2.4 kms              At the moment 256 dairy cows nary costs. What helps us most is
to get to the milking parlour. That          and 155 young stock are grazing in the reduction of costs for the
means that they walk over 10 kilo-           the fields of Nyhof Farms. In the transportation of the manure. The
metres per day. In addition to that          near future there will be even mo- cows do this work for us themsel-
the animals have to bear extreme             re because they want to double ves” Albert Nyhof says with a big
temperatures.                                the „winter barn without a roof” smile on his face.

„Keeping cows outside summer and winter: our best decision since years“ Albert Nyhof says.


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