In this process, their attention was caught by the ProCROSS, the three-way rotation which alternates the Holstein, Montbéliarde and VikingRed breeds. The couple could see the virtues of melding these bloodlines and knew the system of doing so had been rigorously tested.
“A lot of research has been done on combining these breeds,” says Paul, who appreciated being able to build on his existing herd base. He knew this would maintain the high production potential and good udder conformation of the Holstein but add the fertility and health for which the VikingRed is renowned, and the robustness and body condition of the Montbéliarde.
“I remember watching some 1950s footage of cows walking past our buildings,” he remarks. “They were all shapes and colours – not unlike those we have today. Of course, the VikingRed did originate from Ayrshires and that type of bloodline, and I’d say our cows today have more similar traits to the cows that were here in the past.”
In fact, the ProCROSS system has been proven to produce thoroughly modern cattle, with high production potential and the ability to convert feed efficiently into milk. And although the precise mechanisms for this feed conversion efficiency have not been pinpointed, a combination of good health and consistent body condition are likely to play a part. They are also known to have better fertility and longevity than their black and white counterparts.
“We were able to visit some local ProCROSS herds at different stages of their journey and were impressed with the cows’ performance,” says Paul. “That convinced us we were definitely heading down the right genetic track for our farm’s success.
“Relationships are also very important to us, and we like VikingGenetics as a company to work with, and the support they give,” he adds.