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A dairy farm in which the productive breed was changed from the milk-producing Holstein to the Alpine Bruna breed, as a dual use for milk and meat.
The aim of this measure was to better adapt to the climate of the region. In addition, a market-oriented genetic selection was carried out to produce milk with A2A2 beta casein closer to human milk and BB kappa casein more suitable for cheese production.
Heat not only affects the quantity and quality of milk, but it also affects the health status, the frequency and intensity of oestrus, fertility. Therefore, costs increase and income is reduced.
The aim of this measure was to minimise the impact of heat stress on the animals and its economic effects for the farm, as well as to look for market opportunities.
High temperatures lead to higher water consumption by the cow, which reduced the daily nutrient intake, resulting in lower daily production (-20%) and lower quality associated with lower nutrient content (-10% in price).
These effects on production, for 4-5 months of the year, impacted on the sustainability of the farm.
These centres provided highly selected cattle with the advice of Italian geneticists and veterinarians.
Through this genetic study they reduced years of on-farm selection to achieve high standards in milk quality, morphology, life expectancy, productive capacity, etc.
They identified the breeds that could be adapted to the region, some of which were discarded due to import difficulties, morphology, lack of selection and lack of quality.
In order to make the final decision, they visited farms in Austria, Italy, France and Germany, analysing their productivity and their potential adaptation to the high temperatures of Andalusia.
330 pregnant cows and 2 bulls at a cost of €2,000 per animal. To this must be added the whole research and breeding process.
To finance this, the Holstein cows were withdrawn, which made it possible to finance 60% of the investment cost of the changeover.
Initially, they brought 330 6-month pregnant cows and 2 bulls from high genetic farms in Italy and Germany, whose genome guaranteed production with A2A2 beta casein and BB kappa casein.
The transfer was sequential, 3 trips were planned according to the time of gestation, with the aim of guaranteeing staggered births to ensure homogeneity of milk production throughout the year, with stable workloads.
The Holstein is a breed derived from very complex historical selection processes, which makes it very productive, but very sensitive from a health point of view.
The Bruna, on the other hand, is a more rustic breed, less selected, and therefore much more robust and healthier. With the change, health requirements, antibiotics and veterinary care have been reduced.
Previous experience with dairy cows was crucial, as there are no experts who can facilitate the transition between varieties.
They were clear about which breed they wanted and why they wanted it, as well as which genome they wanted to select. Yet they were open to the possibility of success or failure. And above all, they have maintained an ability to learn and adapt to the management needs of this breed.
The Bruna is a less selected breed and therefore less sensitive from a health point of view, which facilitates health management with less use of drugs and antibiotics, thus minimising the possibility of transmission to the marketed milk.
The farm has initiated a process of biological control to combat the presence of flies by introducing a species of flies to fight the existing ones.
Although milk production is in a very delicate situation due to its low price, this farm has started a conversion process that has improved its financial situation thanks to the change from Holstein to Bruna.
The stabilisation of production, the price premium for higher quality, the income from calf meat, the lower health requirements and the change in nutritional needs have made it possible to improve the farm’s profitability.
In this case, the breed change has been a success, to which the planning, the genetic orientation, the search for a differentiated market, the previous experience and the family consensus have all contributed.
For all these reasons, the change from Holstein to Bruna has been possible, which has led to greater production stability, higher quality, and an improvement in the farm’s economic and financial situation.
This farm has its own commercial brand called “Tierra de Brunas” which produces cheeses and dairy products with A2A2 beta casein and lactose-free, obtained naturally without the addition of lactase.
The market potential for lactose and milk protein intolerant people is very important and the opportunity for this company is great.
If the varietal change is produced by crossbreeding with a new breed, patience is required, the Bruna is less competitive than the Holstein and its production may be reduced in the first generations.
Breed change requires adaptability as the behaviour and management required by each breed is often different.
“Today you have to be an entrepreneur before you are a farmer and a farmer before you are a cowherd”.
“The sustainability of a livestock enterprise is difficult, you have to keep abreast of trends, have good management, technify and optimise to increase profitability”.
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