The Netherlands: Modern Genetics for Modern Breeders

For a long time, the Netherlands has been the spearhead of development in the milk production industry in Europe. At the dawn of a veritable liberalization, the Dutch breeders are more determined than ever. « The sire choice plays a key role here », explains Sander Stenveld, breeder at De Punt, in the north-eastern part of the Netherlands.

Determined breeders

Entrance of the dairy operation of Sander StenveldSander Stenveld has taken on the family business four years ago. At 27 years of age, this young and dynamic graduate from Wageningen University, today manages the 170 ha operation together with his mother and younger brother Martijn. « When I started, we owned 150 dairy cows, Sander STENVELDbut the new building would house 250. Since then we have done everything possible to fill the new barn: we bought land, milk quota, modernized the buildings… Today, the barn is full and we produce around 2 250 000 liters of milk per year. Our strategy is clear: We want to double the production in the years to come ».

Modern milk producer

Sander STENVELD is looking for solid and long-living milking cows. This JESTHER daughter belongs to the young breeder.In the Netherlands, the breeders keep a close eye on their margins. Dairy farmers today are mainly occupied with producing milk at reduced cost. « The longevity of the cows is your main highway to success », says the young businessman, who « prefers cows that know how to take it easy ». Sander appreciates for example the daughters of PEINZER BOY. They quietly start producing milk, however, they are persistent milk producers and continue this way during the lactations. As a result, they are in good health, fertile, problem-free and in particular long-living.

Powerful cows

Calm reigns in the barn even though there is not much place at the feed troughThe cows stay inside all year long. The building for the milking cows has 150 places at the feed trough for a total of 250 stalls. Yet, the calm that reigns in this building is impressive, and the same goes for the homogeneity of the herd. The breeder looks for animals that « can take care of themselves. I am not a breeder who participates in shows. Via my mating choices I am selecting for powerful cows, that can stay in the herd a long time. My selection priorities are feet & legs, type and protein. I am sure that selection for protein will allow me to gain a point on the herd average, and Euros on the milk check » explains the breeder.

Semen of all-round sires

To work on those three points the breeder opts for all-round sires, in order not to introduce any flaws via the selection. « I am using for 75% genetics from Genes Diffusion with bulls such as ROUMARE, ROCKO and ORCIVAL. By the way, the last one has been tested in the Netherlands. For cows that have insufficient milk production I choose JESTHER, the milk champion. But my favorite bull remains ROUMARE: he presents a complete profile for production and a very high type level. 75% of the herd originates from Genes Diffusion geneticsHis daughters do impress with their conformation and development ».

A rigorous strategy

« Before, we used "Week analysis", recently better known as the aAa code. This program was not well suited for our operation, because the mating choice became more complicated all the time ». Since three years, a general line became visible in the choice of the matings, by the use of a selection of proven sires, proven with respect to their indexes and in the herd. In this way, by limiting the choice to five sires, the matings remain clear and simple. In practice the matings are made with the help of a genetic technician. « He is a specialist and he knows what I want », emphasizes Sander. The inseminations are performed by an independent inseminator. « If I work with Genes Diffusion today, it is because at this moment they have the best bulls for my herd. If tomorrow that would be no longer the case, I wouldn’t hesitate to decide differently ». In modern Dutch breeding, strict professionalism is imperative.

 

 

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An alternative for the Dutch breeders

Since 1998, the breeding program of Genes Diffusion has been available in the Netherlands. Central in this program are a dozen of bulls that are locally tested every year. These young sires originate from international sources, famous for their type characteristics, longevity and production. In order to be competitive on the Dutch market, Genes Diffusion puts the accent on performance.

This is confirmed by the fact that particular attention is paid to the health traits of bull dams and sires of sons. The Dutch program of Genes Diffusion has already been very successful with bulls such as ORCIVAL, ROCKO, SALISBURY, and PEINZER BOY.

Genes Diffusion is partner of “Milk around the World”, project leaded by Arnaud BARANGER and Martine BROUWER, which consists in a bicycle trip to discover the milk production around the world.

  Click here to follow the trip

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