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When you are genuinely interested, it doesn´t feel like work

VikingGenetics’ annual award, Herd of the Year Sweden, goes to a dairy farm working purposefully with various breeding tools. This year it goes to brothers Tomas and Björn Moberg, who are fourth-generation farmers at Rabbalshede Farm, on the west coast of Sweden.

Surrounded by their parents, Tomas’ daughter as well as the vet and the breeding adviser from Växa, the Moberg brothers celebrate this milestone in Swedish cattle breeding on a warm Friday morning in June with a cake from Växa.

“We are pleased and proud of the work we have been doing, especially because we consider it to be a nice job to do”, Tomas Moberg says. “It represents the hard work and passion we have for our herd”, Björn adds.

Rabbalshede is one of the most admired family dairy farms in Sweden, and here the passion for breeding does not stop even if there are photos to take, interviews to make, and a cake waiting to be eaten.

“When you are genuinely interested, it doesn’t feel like work, you just enjoy it”, Tomas says.

Björn and Tomas rush into the barn where breeding advisor, Peter Jönsson is about to start the embryo flushing of Rosita, one of the best heifers in the herd. Teamwork is required to make Rosita comfortable.

Flushing embryos

Peter Jönsson is also an embryo specialist, and he is often at the farm to flush high-ranking heifers since Rabbalshede signed several flush contracts with VikingGenetics. In 2020, six animals were flushed and two more are planned so far in 2021. The embryos from Rabbalshede are in demand.

Peter is also the person who nominated Rabbalshede for the Herd of the Year. Teamwork is the key for both farmers and Växa breeding advisers to work together smoothly.

“I think it is very nice and interesting to further develop the farm all the time, and I also have Peter, who shows a huge interest and we trust each other a lot”, Tomas says.

"Tomas' interest in breeding goes deep and he is very passionate, especially for the red breed. A very nice customer to work with", Jönsson comments. 

Passion for the reds

Rabbalshede farm has 170 milking cows with 60-65 % VikingRed, the rest are VikingHolstein. The percentages speak for themselves about how much Tomas and Björn appreciate working with the red cows. They keep the rest of the herd to compare performance.

“The difference in production is small between the breeds we have, but you can see in the amount of feed there is a better performance in converting feed into milk among the reds”, Tomas says.

Tomas Moberg has inherited his father's interest in breeding to increase milk production and was early to use genomic selection in the herd. "Breeding is so interesting in that you can always do something new to further develop your herd."

For him, it´s very relevant to know more about the cow families, and the oldest cow family in the farm goes back 100 years. His grandfather bought the farm in 1932, and there is still a cow family from that time around in the herd.

“The bull VR Wanted comes from that family”, says a proud Tomas now with his piece of cake in front of him ready to be eaten.

Best genetics in sight

When choosing the indexes for the next generation of cows, they choose those with high milk production and “professional” females, as they call those cows that can work well in the two robots they have in the barn.

He adds that the number of cows will not increase too much at the farm, but their quality will. Embryo flushing will continue, and they are very goal-oriented in this area. The average NTM (Nordic Total Merit index) among the active cows is around +5 NTM.

The farm has sold several bulls to VikingGenetics, such as VR Tophat, a son of VR Tornado, and VH Omega, who is the son of D Onside. Out of the 27 bulls that VikingGenetics bought from dairy farmers in Sweden last year, three of them came from Rabbalshede: VR Wanted, VR Flair P, and VR Trophy.

A well-deserve prize

Breeding advisers in Sweden (from VikingGenetics’ owner cooperative, Växa) nominate interesting, innovative, and sustainable herds that work strategically with many different breeding tools as the genomic test of females, sexed semen, and embryo flushing to contribute to the Nordic breeding goal. 

"The prize is awarded to the Moberg brothers, who have a great passion for breeding. Their work is at the forefront when it comes to using new strategies to further develop their farm. With this prize we want to highlight and support all the work they have done", says Mia Brandqvist, Breeding Advisor in Sweden.


Rabbalshede dairy farm facts  

    • Located in southwest Sweden and surrounded by both forest and open landscape, well suited for milk production.
    • The herd has very good production and tests all females genomically.
    • They have sold several bulls to VikingGenetics and flush regularly on the farm.
    • In 2020, six animals were flushed and two more are planned so far in 2021.
    • When the brothers took over the farm after their father, there were 110 cows, now they have 170 milking cows and there is an ambition to increase the genetic level for each generation.
    • They have 5 employees, with help from Tomas and Björn’s mother and father when they need an extra hand.
    • Tomas says that they grow everything the animals eat on their 330 hectares except protein. 
    • Production: 12,800 kg ECM
    • Fat: 4.4%
    • Protein: 3.6%
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