Fleckvieh: Why more farmers want this cow

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Farmers need to know that it is only through proper management and feeding of Fleckvieh dairy cows that they can get good returns from this breed. In 2011, we featured the Fleckvieh dual-purpose cattle breed and since then thousands of farmers have acquired it.

 Farmers’ feedback to TOF shows that Fleckvieh is now the breed of choice for many dairy farmers who desire a cow that can be used for both dairy and beef production. Following increasing enquiries from farmers, we would like to highlight the qualities and management of this breed.

Origin of Fleckvieh

 Fleckvieh is the second largest dairy breed in the world – and one of Europe’s oldest. Through many years of selective breeding, Fleckvieh has acquired most of the desired traits that farmers want in dairy and beef cows.

Active genetic potential

 Fleckvieh cow is durable, hardy and easy to handle even within a small farm. They have excellent feet and legs to move easily even in the most difficult terrain. A mature Fleckvieh has good strength and well-developed body and weighs 650-800 kilograms.

Good milk and meat

 Studies show that every 1 kilogram of milk from Fleckvieh cow milk contains 4.2% fat and 3.7% protein. The milk also contains Omega 3 fats – which are essential nutrients for human beings. According to Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa, the company that sells Fleckvieh semen in Kenya and East Africa, Fleckvieh bulls are fast growing and gain muscle at a rate of 1.5 kilograms per day for the first 200 days. When cross-bred with other breeds, the farmer is assured of high quality milk and beef. Under intensive fattening conditions, young bulls reach a daily weight gain of more than 1300 grams (1.3 Kg) per day. In the first 6 months after birth, a bull can attain up to 300 kg with proper feeding and management.

Disease resistance

 Compared to other breeds, Fleckvieh owners do not incur huge veterinary bills due to the breed’s ability to withstand some of the common livestock diseases such as mastitis. This is an inflammation of the udder that cuts down milk production. The infection is caused by somatic cells (dead cells) from the bloodstream that end up in milk. With its thick skin, insects such as ticks, tsetse flies and even houseflies find it difficult to suck the blood from Fleckvieh cattle. It is therefore fairly resistant to common diseases such as ECF and trypanosomiasis.

The breed has a more efficient feed conversion rate compared to other dairy cattle. Studies show that the breed can give more milk than other breeds with the same amount of feed. For example, if a Friesian-Holstein dairy cow is given 60 kg of feed, the amount of milk it will produce is equal to what a Fleckvieh cow will produce with only 45 kg of same type of feed.

With good management, Fleckvieh dairy cows can produce between 25-30 litres of milk per day. On second calving, it produces 30-35 litres, increasing this to between 30-40 litres after the third calving. The breed has a consistent milk production throughout the lactation period – this is a big plus compared to other breeds. It produces milk steadily for 305 days a year without any decline. The breed has been known to produce up to 10,000 litres of milk per lactation (milking period) with good management.


The best way to house a dairy cow

The productivity of dairy cows depend on proper housing and feeding. Maintaining hygiene and providing adequate space is also important.

Space

Each adult cow needs at least 8 square metres apart from her resting pen. The easiest way is to confine this area in front of the stall.

• All animals must to be able to stand in the shade and shelter under the roof. It must be high enough for a person to stand up and work under it.

• The floor should be made of concrete or hard-packed soil. Concrete is easy to clean.

• The floor should not be too smooth; otherwise the cattle will slip on it. A rough floor also keeps the hooves short.

• The ground must slope gently towards a channel leading to a manure pit outside the pen for urine and water to flow.

• Each cow must have her own resting box pens or cubicle where she can lie down, chew cud and sleep.

Water

 • The shed should be close to a reliable source of clean water. One dairy cow needs at least between 50 litres of water every day (5 to 18 buckets).

Milking area

• Provide a separate area for milking with a trough, so the cow can feed during milking.

 Maintenance

• Dung and urine have to be swept into the manure pit at least once every day. Keep the pit covered.

• The bedding material must be changed as soon as it is wet and dirty. This is necessary to keep the animals clean and dry and will prevent serious diseases like diarrhoea, foot rot and mastitis.

• Clean the feeding troughs every time before you put fresh fodder into them.

• The water trough needs to be cleaned and brushed out from time to time.

Farmers interested in Fleckvieh genetics can get in touch with the company. Call Dr. Gichohi on 0727 665 885. To get a list of Fleckvieh AI service provider in your district, visit the Fleckvieh Genetics (EA) website at www. fleckviehgeneticsea.com.

>>Share your experiences with TOF and fellow farmers. Send email to admin@theorganicfarmer.org,  leave a comment below this article or SMS to 0715 916 136.

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