After becoming increasingly concerned about the level of inbreeding in the Holstein breed, and seeing his herd become less resistant to stress and increasing instances of disease, Matteo Vitali started using Norwegian Red genetics on his herd.
Matteo has split his herd in two, retaining half as purebred Holsteins and half crossbred with Norwegian Red. Using this method, he is able to have a clear comparison between the two groups.
He started with Norwegian Red six years ago, and the biggest advantage Matteo has seen on his crossbreds is drastically improved fertility. He uses 1.1 less straws on his Norwegian Red crossbred than their purebred Holstein herd mates.
“I look for cows that are robust, produce what I need and don’t need veterinarian treatments, and that’s what I’m getting with my Norwegian Red crossbreds”, notes Matteo Vitali.
Matteo notes that the crosses are better animals and more robust. He sees less mastitis, less respiratory diseases and particularly less disease in the winter. As a consequence, his crossbreds need less veterinarian care and medicine.
"There is no difference at all in milk yield between my Norwegian Red crosses and purebred cows so far", says Matteo Vitali.
When it comes to milk yield, there is no difference between these two groups, and the average output being 12,500 kgs per cow. In fact, most of his the Norwegian Red crossbreds he is milking are in their first lactation meaning that they’re not at their production peak and he expects their production to increase over coming lactations, whereas the purebreds are already in their second, third or fourth lactation.
Dairy farmer in Galgagnano, Lodi area, Italy
Milks 200 dairy cows, 100 dairy buffalo
50% purebred Holstein & 50% Norwegian Red crossbreds
2-way cross: Holstein – Norwegian Red – Holstein
Milk yield: 12,500 kgs
Fresh cows milked 3-times-per-day up until 5 months, then twice-a-day
Video testimonial from Matteo Vitali:
About Norwegian Red
Norwegian Red is the main dairy cattle breed in Norway, developed by Geno SA. Geno SA is a farmer-owned cooperative that has been breeding Norwegian Red dairy cattle since 1935. Geno sells over 1 million doses of semen from elite Norwegian Red bulls each year and distributes genetic material to more than 30 countries worldwide. Geno's vision: Breeding for better lives. Geno's head office is in Hamar, Norway.