What you should know regarding Fleckvieh dairy cattle, a disease resistant breed of cattle that eats less and produces more
The Fleckvieh breed of cattle is said to be a high yielding, dual-purpose cow developed for both dairy and beef production. Also referred to as Miling Simmental because of its origin from the Simmental breed of cattle, the breed was developed in Germany and introduced into Kenya from South Africa in 2009.
Fleckvieh is a hardy breed that can resist diseases, eats less and produces more high quality milk. Kenyan dairy farmers are used to the common exotic breeds of dairy cows such as the Holstein-Fresians, Ayrshire, Guernsey or even Jerseys.
For three years now, a new cattle breed has attracted the attention of Kenyan dairy farmers: Fleckvieh is a high yielding, dual-purpose cow that can be used for both dairy and beef production. Kenyan farmers who have discovered the qualities of this breed have introduced them into their herds. It is marketed in Kenya and East Africa by Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa (FGEA). Since its introduction the breed has been adopted by thousands of farmers in Kiambu, Malindi and other parts of the country.
Years of selective breeding
Fleckvieh (or Miling Simmental) is the second largest dairy breed in the world – and one of Europe’s oldest. At the moment, there are an estimated 45 million cattle with Fleckvieh bloodlines worldwide. Developed in the highlands of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the breed became popular in most parts of the world because of their adaptability to harsh climatic conditions.
Through many years of selective breeding, Fleckvieh has acquired some of the characteristics that dairy farmers are looking for. The Fleckvieh breed was introduced by Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa (FGEA) from South Africa in 2009.
The company gets most of its semen from top bulls in upper Bavarian region in Germany. Other sources of the Fleckvieh genetics are Austria, Czech republic, Australia. A Fleckvieh heifer goes for about Kshs 250,000 making it unaffordable to majority of dairy and beef farmers in Kenya. The cheapest way to get this breed is through artificial insemination of livestock where farmers can cross with their dairy or beef cows. In this process over 75% of the Fleckvieh genetics is passed to the offspring whereas the general standard for this transfer is 50 per cent. This is a very high rate of genetic gain and dairy farmers can quickly improve their herds in a very short time. Farmers are encouraged to get semen from these top bulls available at a price ranging from Kshs 400 to 1,000.
Active genetic potential
The Fleckvieh cow is durable, hardy and easy to handle even within a small farm, they are able to move easily even in the most difficult terrain. A mature Fleckvieh has good strength and body development. A mature cow weighs about 650-800 kilograms.
The breed has a very large and active genetic potential. It is believed that it is going to be one of the major breeds in the country once farmers discover its quality, Already, Fleckvieh is attracting a lot of attention and farmers want to try it.
Nutritious milk and good meat
Studies show that every 1 kg of milk from a Fleckvieh cow contains 4.2% fat and 3.7% protein. In addition, the milk is rich in other micronutrients and Omega 3 fats, which are vital for a healthy body. Bulls are fast growing and gain muscle at a rate of 1.5 kilogrammes per day for the first 200 days when cross-bred with other breeds, the farmer is assured of high quality of milk and beef. Under intensive fattening conditions, young bulls reach a daily weight gain of more than 1300 grams. In the first 6 months after birth, a bull can attain up to 300 kg with proper feeding and management.
Compared with other breeds, Fleckvieh owners will not have to incur huge veterinary bills – due to the breed’s ability to withstand some of the common livestock diseases, mastitis for instance – This is an inflammation of the udder that cuts down milk production. The infection is caused by somatic cells (dead cells) from the bloodstreams that get into the milk in the udder. Fleckvieh cow milk has lower numbers of somatic cells compared to other dairy breeds, meaning that Fleckvieh is less prone to mastitis; there is another advantage: Less somatic cells means: The milk lasts longer without refrigeration.
And, since Fleckvieh has a very thick skin, it is more resistant against diseases transmitted by ticks and tsetse flies- the proboscis of these vectors cannot penetrate the thick Fleckvieh skin.
An easy to handle cow
Farmers are usually more interested in the amount of milk a cow can produce. But what goes for Holstein-Fresian and other breeds, can as well be said of Fleckvieh: The amount of milk a cow produces depends directly on the feed it is given and the way it is kept. With sufficient and nutritious feed, a healthy cow can produce a lot of milk; if the feed is poor, the milk yield will be less. Farmers sometimes forget the relationship between the feed given and the milk output.
What makes Fleckvieh different from other breeds (Holstein Friesian, Ayrshire etc)? Fleckvieh cattle are economically productive: The breed has a more efficient feed conversion rate compared to other dairy cattle. Studies show that the breed can give more milk with the same amount of feed that is given to other breeds. 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 have been proved to 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 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 in every lactation (milking period) with good management.
For Semen from top Fleckvieh bulls contact: Fleckvieh Genetics (EA) Ltd. Mobile +254 712 095555 / +254 727 665885, [email protected]
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Some more practical Fleckvieh breeding insights can be found here:
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