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6 Jun 2022

Long-lasting cows boost profitability and benefit the climate

Focusing on improving lifetime production can help you achieve higher profitability and sustainability for your dairy business. Poor fertility, low yield and health problems are the most common culling reasons in dairy herds.

VikingGenetics' innovative breeding programmes foster healthy, efficient, trouble-free cows with high production of milk and solids. They also have excellent fertility and a natural defence against disease.

By choosing VikingGenetics sires, you will be continuously improving the genetic gain for each generation of your herd.

Here you can see the genetic progress that was achieved during 2002-2021 for Longevity and Production, and the corresponding phenotypic effect.





Index units

Days in herd

Index units




+200 days


+781 kg



+155 days


+665 kg



+130 days


+665 kg

Lifetime production kg ECM milk 2017-2021 in Denmark

Long-lasting cows benefit the climate

Healthy and fertile cows that live long in the herd help to reduce the herd's climate footprint. Long-lasting cows are not only good for securing profitability and improving animal welfare but also help reduce the milk's climate footprint.

This is because the climate impact that comes from rearing cows can be distributed over a higher lifetime production.

With better longevity, you can also reduce replacement costs. This greatly helps in achieving more climate-friendly milk production, as the herd's total methane production is reduced with fewer animals needed to sustain milk production, as well as lower feed costs.


How does the replacement rate impact the climate footprint?

SEGES in Denmark has estimated the impact of reducing the replacement rate on the climate footprint.

If the calving age is 24 months and the replacement rate is 40%, there must be 89 heifers per 100 cows, taking into account that some heifers do not reach dairy cow maturity. By reducing the replacement rate to 35%, you only need 75 heifers. The effect on the climate footprint will vary depending on the calving age.

The lower the calving age, the smaller the climate footprint, provided that the heifers are able to reach a reasonable size and quality.

In the above example, a reduction in the replacement rate from 40% to 30% will mean a reduction in the total climate footprint of 75,000 kg CO2 eq., corresponding to an almost 6% reduction in the milk's climate footprint.

An important prerequisite for this climate footprint reduction is, of course, that the herd has a good reproduction level and that the cows maintain good health and milk yield as they get older.

How does the replacement rate impact the climate footprint?

Higher lifetime production with crossbreeding

One of the solutions to ensure that cows stay longer in your herd is to implement structured crossbreeding. Crossbred cows stay longer in your herd with an increased lifetime production.

If you decide to adopt an intensive production system, be sure to consider ProCROSS, a 3-breed rotational crossbreeding system combining VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Coopex Montbéliarde.

The benefits of the ProCROSS system have been proven in the 10-year ProCROSS study led by the University of Minnesota, USA, the results of which were published in 2019. The trial was conducted on seven dairy herds in Minnesota, USA. 3,550 Holstein cows were committed for the foundation.

One of the conclusions from the Minnesota study was improved longevity. The study results showed that ProCROSS cows have +147 days of production compared to Holstein cows - 41% of ProCROSS cows reached their fourth lactation compared to 21% for Holsteins.

Lifetime profit is also significantly improved for crossbred cows: +33% more Lifetime Profit with ProCROSS crossbred cows compared to Holsteins.

If you have a seasonal calving herd, check out VikingGoldenCross, a 3-breed rotational crossbreeding programme combining VikingHolstein, VikingRed and VikingJersey.

A study conducted by Dairy Australia compared different crossbreds to purebred herds on a pasture-based system. The researchers analysed data from more than 23 million lactation records from almost 900,000 cows on 18,207 farms collated over a 14-year period.

The study concluded that a crossbred cow is more fertile, she lives longer and depreciates less. The survival of the cows was better, and there was an average of 50% more lactations in three-way cross herds in Australia compared to purebred Holstein herds.

Higher lifetime production with crossbreeding

Higher profits with beef-on-dairy genetics

Good longevity in your dairy cows allows you to increase the proportion of beef semen used in your herd. Ensuring good reproduction performance in your herd is also important.

By inseminating 60-70% of your dairy cows that will not be used for the next generation with beef-on-dairy sires, you improve the profitability of your business by breeding healthy, fast-growing crossbred calves with optimal carcass value.

Use of beef genetics in dairy cows is growing rapidly around the world. Among the key advantages are:

  • Bigger, healthier calves with a higher carcass value and ease of calving compared to traditional dairy calves.
  • Faster growing offspring enabling the beef producer to raise more calves in a year.
  • Lower rearing expenses and reduced replacement in your dairy herd.
  • Better animal welfare and less climate impact due to a more targeted and sustainable breeding strategy.

With our beef-on-dairy concept, you can avoid breeding too many low-value heifers and small bull calves, which are unattractive for a beef producer. This enables you to boost the value of your lower-ranking cows and improve the profitability of your business.

Learn more about beef-on-dairy
Higher profits with beef-on-dairy genetics

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