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Robust ProCROSS cows give higher lifetime production

Lambert Van Der Linde and his family switched to a ProCROSS herd 10 years ago when his original black and white cows were unable to keep a balance between high production and good health. After a decade, his health costs have now been reduced by 37%. 

Lambert and his wife Gerrie moved from the Netherlands, where they had a 90-cow herd, to Portugal in 1996. In their new home, they bought 150 pure Holstein Friesians and started to transform a 77-ha cereal farm into a dairy farm. 

“On this 77-ha farm we started selling milk under poor conditions. Then we started building the dairy barn and increasing the size of the herd”. 

They now have 90-ha with 305 milking cows on the grazing system. The herd is 85% ProCROSS, the rest are pure Holstein cows that this family farm kept for benchmarking purposes.  

“Until now, we kept records of the pure Holstein and the crossbreds born in 2009 with interesting results, which convinced us to keep on going with ProCROSS”, Lambert says

 

 

 

The switch to better genetics

Lambert explains that after 10 years using the aAa code (a dairy cattle breeding guide created in 1950 in the US), they had a uniform herd but faced what he calls the typical problems for pure black and whites.  

“The hospital pen was full due to typical Holstein problems like fertility, health problems, startup problems in early lactation, and we needed more replacement heifers at the time". 

In 2008, he was invited to come join a ProCROSS tour in California. "The herd's sizes were amazing", he remembers. “In 2009, we got 22 crossbred calves, and we appreciated these first calves, so we slowly started to inseminate more”, he adds.

Lambert appreciated the fact that he got to know more about the results of the studies made by the University of Minnesota – where ProCROSS cows are compared for different parameters with pure Holstein.  

“Those studies convinced us to start. Now we've been milking ProCROSS cows for 10 years, and we are very happy with this change”.

A crossbred cow is more alert, curious, self-supporting, and calm.
You see a herd worth showing to anyone entering the farm.

Lambert Van Der Linde,
Portugal, 305 cows

Increased profitability

The switch to ProCROSS has also brought economic benefits to the family. “We gain robust cows who provide greater lifetime production, with more health and fertility, higher ROI (Return on Investment), and more job satisfaction”.

Selling surplus heifers is now a routine practice for Lambert´s family. “Due to less replacement, better fertility, and improved longevity we have been able to sell ProCROSS animals to other farms in Portugal and Spain”, he explains. 

“We do the numbers, we do not have more milk in our tanks, but the milk quality is greater. We have less youngstock - only from the top cows", he adds. 

 

 

 

 

A healthier herd makes employees happier

He also highlights that the savings come from a healthier herd and vet bills have been reduced considerably. They reduced health costs by 37% in nine years. 

“We have fewer cows in the hospital pen and fewer treatment costs,” he says and adds that his four employees are also more motivated: “The milk is well appreciated by the cheesemaker and our workforce is happier”.

“We have less work per cow, and we also save labor because the herd’s health and fertility levels have improved, without compromising on lifetime production. Put some time into it, add the numbers, and be surprised”.

Farm facts

  •  305 cows (260 ProCROSS / 45 Holstein)
  •  Average production per cow in 2019: 10,016 kg ECM
  •  Average lifetime production per cow: 48,439 kg ECM
  •  Switched to ProCROSS in 2008
  •  Reduced health costs by 37% in nine years
  •  Four employees.
Read more about ProCROSS