Changing a herd’s breed is not for the faint-hearted and for Adam Longwell, who farms with his family in County Tyrone, it’s been a gradual process, carried out with a close assessment of performance every step of the way. With his parents, Derek and Kay, and grandfather, Bertie, still involved on Lisnagir Farm near the village of Mountjoy, he felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders.
But returning home from Greenmount College just a few years ago, he was keen to embrace new thinking and approach the issue of herd health in particular from a different angle. Milking 180 Holstein Friesians at the time, he recalls: “We were hit badly with TB in 2015 and numbers were down so we decided to look beyond the black and white breed for some herd replacements.
“I read articles, spoke to vets and researched different breeds and the one that kept coming to the fore with a reputation for high health was the VikingRed.
“The more I read, the more I liked what I discovered, learning that the breed had not only been bred for its health for many decades, but was also known for its fertility and high-quality milk. “We decided in the end to take a chance and bought our first load of VikingReds from Denmark.”