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Herd of the Year Sweden 2023 - Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

Top fertility, genomic testing, and embryo flushings are the keys to breeding healthy, sustainable cows that drive milk production forward at VikingGenetics Sweden 2023 Herd of the Year.

The 2023 VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden award was given to Ängesbäckens Lantbruk during Växadagarna 2024 earlier this year. This recognition of a top breeding interest and good fertility practices has led them to be part of VikingGenetics’ breeding and embryo programmes.

Located in Ånäset, in the north of Sweden, Ängesbäckens Lantbruk is at the forefront of milk production in the area and is an example of what many years of breeding work can achieve. Petra Sandegren, Göran Olofsson and Ingrid Sundbom own and run the farm with eight other employees. Petra is responsible for the animals, and Göran is chairman of the board of Norrmejerier, a well-known local dairy company in Norrland.

According to Petra, a breeding goal focused on health and sustainability drives milk production forward for their herd. This, among other things, demonstrates the progress that can be achieved when one sticks to one's breeding goal.

The 305-dairy cow herd is milked in five robots, yielding almost 12,400 kg ECM, with 4.2% fat and 3.6% protein. The farm has been genomically testing its animals for nearly ten years, and the results form the basis for their breeding work.

"We've genomically tested our animals since 2014, which has greatly benefited our breeding strategy. It's an excellent tool that allows you to select based on the traits you think are most important. It's also great fun to get the results back and compare them with the calculated breeding values," says Petra Sandegren.

VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

Healthy and sustainable animals

A long history of collaboration with breeding advisors from Växaone of VikingGenetics’ member coops – and other experts has been a crucial part of the process. This has helped Ängesbäckens set many focus areas needed to breed healthy and sustainable animals.

An emphasis on hoof health, udder health, fertility, and milk yield has helped drive production forward by breeding trouble-free cows more suited to robot milking.

According to Petra, an interest in breeding can help dairy farmers boost production and make farming more fun. “It would be so boring not to be involved in anything; you’d have nothing to look forward to! It's also a way to make production fun and see progress happen," she explains.

Petra also likes to try new things in breeding, such as different bloodlines and keeping various breeds in the herd. Most of the cows at Ängesbäckens are VikingHolstein, but there are also many VikingRed, ProCROSS, and a couple of Brown Swiss.

Since 2022, the farm has also been a recipient herd for the VikingEmbryo programme and now deposits between eight and ten embryos a month. Several of their heifers have received VikingGenetics flush contracts, and some have been purchased for the donor station in Finland. The very best females are not flushed but instead paired with “sires of sons” to increase the chances of breeding a bull for VikingGenetics’ breeding programmes.

"We get frozen embryos from VikingGenetics and do flushings ourselves. We use animals with an NTM below 14 as recipients. Being a recipient herd is a way of achieving faster breeding progress, and it's a fun way of doing something new," says Petra.

VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

Facing hardships

Unfortunately, less than a month after receiving the Herd of the Year award, a disaster at the farm tested Ängesbäckens Lantbruk's resilience and fighting spirit.

On Sunday, February 25th, 2024, 750 m2 of roof over Ängesbäckens’ milking parlour and calf housing collapsed after a long period of heavy snowfall. Beyond the damages and destruction, sadly, this also resulted in six cows and a late-pregnancy heifer having to be euthanised.

However, amid the tragedy, an amazing story unfolded. The heifer’s calf was miraculously saved through a caesarean section, bringing joy to Ängesbäckens when it was most needed. The calf was aptly named Lucky, and her genomic results revealed that she has an NTM of +31.

The hard recovery work that followed demonstrated, once more, why so many have chosen to recognise Ängesbäckens’ hard work and dedication. After a nearly three-month-long rebuilding process, the barn was completed in May.

VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

Adaptability is the key

Dairy farmers have to be adaptable, as the strategy must be able to change based on the situation, something which the Ängesbäckens team clearly understands. Following the recovery, the goal is to expand the herd to 320 milking cows, maybe more. This means that the farm does not select heifers quite as strictly as before, precisely to bring in more.

Being early adopters of genomic testing of heifers and using X-Vik sexed semen plus a large proportion of VikingBeef semen has also helped Ängesbäckens accelerate the herd’s genetic progress. Combined with long-term conformation evaluation, they have been able to breed high-producing cows with good conformation.

“We now inseminated with 40% beef sexed semen doses, 50% dairy breed sexed doses and then 10% conventional doses. When we could not continue selling our bull calves to our calf buyer, we changed the strategy to get meat breed heifers we keep on the farm. Our stables are better suited for heifers, so that became our solution," ends Petra.

“With a strong focus on breeding and management, Ängesbäckens Lantbruk is a role model for Swedish dairy farming and a worthy recipient of the Herd of the Year Sweden award,” says VikingGenetics CEO Louise Helmer.

Learn more about VikingHolstein
VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

Farm facts

305 cows, 260 milking

Owned and operated by Petra Sandegren, Göran Olofsson and Ingrid Sundbom

Team: Eight full-time employees

Milk production: 12,392 kg ECM

Fat: 4.2%

Protein: 3.6%

All heifers bred on-farm

VikingGenetics Herd of the Year Sweden Ängesbäckens Lantbruk

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