The programme, called VikingGoldenCross, brings together VikingHolstein, VikingJersey and VikingRed in a rotation which delivers efficient, high-quality milk production from fertile, high-health cattle.
The system achieves this by using breeds developed in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Here, farmers have measured and improved their herds’ health and fertility through national genetic programmes for over 40 years.
VikingGoldenCross also optimises the benefits to be gained from heterosis (hybrid vigour). This gives the programme a particular relevance to dairy producers already crossing with two breeds.
By introducing a third breed, hybrid vigour produces greater long-term benefits than a two-breed cross. These benefits – which give the progeny of unrelated animals better performance than the average of their parents – are seen in health, fertility and lifespan more than any other traits.
Matt Stott, VikingGenetics country manager says: “The first cross between two unrelated breeds will give the benefit of 100% heterosis. However, when the first (F1) generation is bred back to either of the same breeds, heterosis levels out at a lower level. Over the generations, a backcrossing, or two-breed system, levels out at 67% heterosis.
“However, when a third breed is introduced to the rotation, heterosis stabilises at a higher level, at 86%.”