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27 Oct 2022

Collaboration paves the way for more Viking cattle imports

Breeding company VikingGenetics UK (VGUK Ltd) has formed an exclusive collaboration with livestock importers, Best of Breed Livestock (BBL). The arrangement is designed to simplify and streamline the import of livestock from the Viking countries by UK dairy producers.

Following many years spent working together, the two companies have entered into this arrangement which sees all of the VikingGenetics breeds imported to the UK exclusively through this route. It paves the way for easier imports of the high health status and top genetic merit animals for which Denmark, Sweden and Finland are renowned.

The collaboration is a response to the high demand in the UK for Scandinavia’s VikingRed, Jersey and Holstein as well as ready-made crossbred cattle. This includes the ProCROSS – a three-way cross which alternates the VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Montbéliarde breeds. The rising popularity of cattle produced through this structured breeding programme has led many UK producers to import crossbreds, rather than wait for three generations to convert their own Holsteins into a ProCROSS herd.

This way, they obtain the instant benefits of heifers and cows which contain the three complementary breeds which have been proven to knit well together, be easily managed, and have lower costs of production and higher profitability than the pure Holstein.

Similarly, other producers are importing the readymade GoldenCross, comprising a three-way rotation of the VikingRed, Jersey and Holstein breeds. This cross has been developed for farmers operating grazing based, seasonal calving systems, many of whom are keen to build strength and add hybrid vigour and production by bringing the third breed into an existing two-way rotation.

Owen Daley, managing director for Best of Breed Livestock says the Nordic countries now dominate his importing business, thanks to their high health status and abundance of high-quality stock.
Currently importing at least 50 truckloads from these countries each year, he says: “The Nordic countries are light-years ahead in terms of health status, and UK producers – whether restocking after a health breakdown, just improving their stock or changing breeds – find it much easier and more satisfactory to meet their needs from this source, especially when high numbers are involved.”

He says the process of acquiring stock will typically start with sight of pedigree, performance and genetic records by the farmer, who will create a shortlist from there.

“UK farmers will then either choose to travel with us to Scandinavia and select the animals themselves, or leave the final selection to us,” he says.

“Either way, they are assured of a quality of stock they would struggle to find elsewhere.”

One UK producer who restocked with readymade ProCROSS cattle was Will Nixon, who farms with his father, Ian, in Shropshire.

“He says: “We imported 79 ProCROSS cattle in 2017 to add to our Holstein herd. Dad went over to Denmark for a day and selected from 10 farms and the heifers arrived on the farm three months before calving, at around 20 months old.”

He describes the process as ‘hassle-free’ and says today, he has 33 of the original imports left on the farm, all now in their sixth lactation.

Chris Stone from VikingGenetics, who was involved with this import, describes the Nixons’ herd today, which is all bred to ProCROSS, as ‘an easy-management herd with high-calibre stock, producing high milk solids, exceptional health and fertility and better profitability than their herd of the past’.

Matt Stott, VikingGenetics UK & Ireland country manager, says: “We’re delighted to have cemented our collaboration with Best of Breed Livestock as our businesses working together – supplying livestock, semen and breeding advice – can speed genetic progress in UK herds. By tapping into genetics from the Nordic countries – renowned for their long-term focus on health, production, fertility and ease of management – we are confident we can improve efficiency, profitability and lifestyles for UK producers.”

Matthew Stott, VG-UK Manager | Telephone 01234 51683 | Email
Chris Stone, Senior Account Manager - West Mids/North West | Telephone 07967 597917 |

Best of Breed Livestock:
Owen Daley, Best of Breed Managing Director | Telephone 07850 257490 | Email
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