There are several good reasons why dairy farmers in North America are learning about the advantages of Fleckvieh x Holstein crossbreeding! Worldwide, the Fleckvieh cattle breed has a large population of about 42 million animals. In some areas of the world these cattle are very common place on dairy farms, and in other areas, they are just beginning to incorporate the advantages of Fleckvieh with a crossbreeding program. For example in the Americas, there are fewer Fleckvieh Cattle in dairy farms, compared with the homeland of Europe specifically in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
1. Fleckvieh are well Adapted To Climate
Bavarian Fleckvieh are well adapted to all kinds of climate. Successful production of high quality milk was recently observed in Brasil by the author. Also in colder climates like Canada and USA, or mountain ranges of Germany, these animals do very well. An explanation that was found again through slaughter house carcass observations by the author and thermoregulatory studies by Bayern Genetik in Germany: Fleckvieh dairy cattle skin is thick like that of a strictly beef animal. Bavarian Fleckvieh have a better circulation because of this and can dissipate heat better into the ambient environment.
This is very helpful in hot climates and summer conditions of temperate regions of the world. Conversely, during cold winter days, the thick skin (up to ¼ of an inch in thickness) helps to insulate the animals. From a nutritional perspective, one can find that the dietary intake is less in cold weather since less energy is required to keep warm. This can be beneficial in terms of cost of operating.
Fleckvieh stem from the Simmentaler breed (more in the blog pertaining to “genetic change”) and were bred to be very manageable in the mountains of Austria and Southern Bavaria. They had to ambulate on mountainous terrain and therefore the breed goal is to have a withers height of 143 to 147 cm with a body weight of approximately 1500 lbs. This size works well on a mountain and it also works well in a modern milk parlor and even robotic milking machines. Their frames are such that they can support a lot of muscle mass and have feet and legs that are strong. This strength is also an advantage of Fleckvieh when they are put to work in a modern dairy farm.
2. Fleckvieh Produce High Quality Milk
Fleckvieh dairy cows produce high quality milk with fat levels on the high end of the industry standard norm in the 4.2 percent range. Also, milk protein levels are in the 3.5% to 3.8% range.
Milk volume tends to be 1 – 3 % less than the traditional Holstein herds. This has to be observed very carefully since the parity makes a difference in production volumes. A first lactation animal will produce a lot less than an older animal. And the trait of muscularity and strength with Bavarian Fleckvieh genetics adds to the lifespan so more lactations can be achieved per animal. An advantage of fleckvieh is a longer lifespan, and more lactations make Fleckvieh dairy cattle very competitive among the highest milk producing cow breeds. Overall qualities had to also be that they have a quiet disposition and are easy to work with. This is definitely the case especially with reference to the Fleckvieh breeding bulls.
The animal’s milk quality is essential in making good quality cheese. In parts of Bavaria, there is a group of producers who will use only use hay to make milk. They call the milk “Heumilch” meaning haymilk. This is testament to the fact, that Fleckvieh do very well on a grass based diets. In modern day dairy farms, this translates into better feed efficiency and in many cases cost savings due to less feed required and a lower input cost with a forage based diet. Many rations are set up with a 55% forage base. Their ability to gain weight starts in calf hood for example where a daily gain of up to 3 lbs per day is commonly observed.
Fleckvieh have Reduced Somatic Cell Counts
As a result of careful and well documented state regulated breeding programs of Bavaria’s government, the genetics are geared towards the development of high quality milk components with reduced somatic cell counts. This definitely pays off for farmers who crossbreed with Fleckvieh cattle. Teat anatomy, milk let down and milk speeds as well as a flat or persistent lactation curve make these ideally suited for dairy production. The muscling adds beef value which is why the Fleckvieh cattle are referred to as dual purpose cattle. Careful selection is applied to traits like udder height, fore and hind udder attachment as well as suspensory ligament strength and persistence.
Fleckvieh have Fewer Milk Fever Issues
Milk fever issues are also less prevalent since Fleckvieh dairy cows do not deprive the calcium stores and are less subject to major fluctuation in post-partum blood levels of Calcium, which, if they dip too low, cause milk fever.
Health Advantages of Fleckvieh
3. Fleckvieh have Easier Calving, Better Calf Survival
Easy calving is another Advantages of Fleckvieh in crossbreeding systems. In the author’s veterinary experience, one of the big reasons for easier calving is that the muscle tone and strength of the uterus of Fleckvieh dairy cows is much stronger than in other types of dairy breeds. We can help with careful mating decisions to ensure the sire chosen can help improve calving and calf survival.
4. Fleckvieh have Reduced Risk Of LDA
Documented research studies show a lower incidence of left displaced abomasum (LDA). The scientifically peer reviewed report done by Bavarian veterinarians of Obing, Germany shows, that “the relative risk of LDA in Fleckvieh cattle was markedly lower than that in Holstein Friesen cattle. The annual average of LDA over a 4 year period was 0.5% for Fleckvieh and 4.8% for Holstein Friesen. The circumstances of feeding practices and production parameters were included in the analyses. The farms in the study were intensive production milking dairy herds. Additionally conditions like subclinical and clinical ketosis are much less when using the Fleckvieh breed – provided a solid dairy nutrition program is in place. A well balanced animal that stays in a positive energy balance stays healthier.
Get Detailed Fleckvieh Mating Advice
Other advantages in using the Fleckvieh breed are the detailed genomic mating charts and mating advice available upon request. The philosophy of maintaining a good portfolio with a variety of blood lines of genetics is really important to prevent inbreeding. BetterDairyCow provides Advantages of Fleckvieh genetics of Bayern Genetik (imported from Germany), to dairy farmers throughout Canada, United States and we have contacts and partners around the world. Contact us about our 24 bloodlines and the huge genetic trees we track in order to provide the best genetics for today’s herdsman.