Farm Innovation Visits Application Form - Crossbreeding in Moderate to High Yielding Dairy Herds

Closed 15 Jul 2022

Opened 1 Jul 2022


The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering dairy farmers the opportunity to travel to SW England to learn about crossbreeding in moderate to high yielding mainly autumn-calving dairy herds.  These herds are practicing a rotational crossbreeding programme system comprising the Viking/Norwegian Red, Montbeliarde/Flekvieh and Holstein breeds as a means of improving the sustainability and lowering the carbon footprint of their dairy production system.


Crossbreeding is well known to bring about health and fertility benefits but is generally associated with lower input lower output Jersey-based New Zealand style spring calving herds.  However, well established research work in the USA over the last 20 years has sought the use of alternative breeds more adapted to higher yielding systems.  This work demonstrated an improvement in non-productive fertility and health traits without compromising too much on performance.  This leads on to improved longevity – increasing the productive life of cows whilst reducing the culling rate and replacement cost, and ultimately improving the sustainability of the dairy production system.


The tour will tour will include visits to 4-5 dairy farms over two days in Somerset and Devon.  It is proposed to fly into Bristol Airport in the evening to allow for two full days of visits.  The first day will be spent with Genus visiting three farms using their HyVig crossbreeding programme comprising Holstein, Norwegian Red and Flekvieh or Montbeliarde, with the farms including a robotic unit averaging some 10,500 litres in a 3-way cross and two autumn calving herds averaging some 8,500 litres - one using a 3-way cross and the other a 2-way cross.  The second day will be spent with Viking Genetics visiting two autumn-calving farms using the ProCross system of Holstein, Viking Red and Montbeliarde, again averaging some 8,500 litres.  There will also be an evening workshop where discussion will be led by Andy Dodd of The Farm Consultancy Group, who was formerly Technical Manager at AHDB Dairy with responsibility for breeding, genetics and fertility.


  • Pre-Visit Training Event

    From 18 Aug 2022 at 19:30 to 18 Aug 2022 at 22:30

    If you accept this offer, you will be expected to participate in a pre-visit training event delivered by CAFRE staff on Thursday 18th August at the Royal Hotel, 64-72 Old Coagh Road Cookstown BT80 8NG


  • All stakeholders


  • Inspection