We are big fans of the Fleckvieh. It’s a breed that we have got to know very well. We now visit Austria with customers several times a year to source pedigree Fleckvieh. (30,000 breeding cattle are now exported from Austria each year. These are transported to over 30 countries around the world!*)
The breed is incredibly popular in Europe. Indeed, it’s the number one dairy breed in Central Europe. 87%* of all dairy cows in Austria are Fleckvieh and it currently tops the table** in Holland and Northern Ireland in the dairy cross stakes. So why has the European farming community fallen in love with this breed?
The Fleckvieh Facts
Well, the breed ticks a lot of boxes for farmers. It’s dual purpose and a high producer at that. In 2018, Genetic Austria recorded the milk production of over a quarter of a million pure bred Fleckvieh. The numbers are impressive. An average yield in excess of 7.7 kg, milk with a fat content of 4.13%, protein of 3.43% and 584 kg of milk solids.
In an independent trial by the Wageningen University in Holland, 500 Holstein cows were inseminated; half of these to Fleckvieh and the other half to Holstein. After birth, the lives of the animals were comprehensively monitored. The older the Fleckvieh crossbreds got the more they outperformed their Holstein counterparts. By the 4th lactation, fat and protein numbers for the Fleckvieh crossbreds were significantly higher, (747 kgs versus 713 kgs) the number of inseminations required were far lower (1.14 against 2.33 for the Holsteins) and the calving interval was far shorter.
There are other pluses too. Fleckvieh cows usually peak around a month later into lactation than Holsteins, thereby reducing the negative energy balance. Fleckvieh also milk well into late lactation. These traits, together with its natural fleshing ability, result in Fleckvieh cows maintaining better body condition in early lactation.
And there’s more. The breed has a lower recorded rate of milk fever than pure dairy breeds, females calve easily and the breed has longevity.
It is also renowned for its excellent beef production. The meat is well marbled and full of flavour.
Much has been written about the impact of farming on the environment. Here in Ireland, the dairy industry has the joint lowest carbon footprint for dairy production. We share the top spot with Austria (a country which also has Europe’s lowest carbon footprint in beef production). Austria’s position can be attributed to the incredible efficiency of the Fleckvieh. In Austria, male calves from dairy are the main supply of prime beef. The exceptionally high cull value actually covers the cost of rearing a replacement.
So, there you have it. A fantastic dual purpose breed with a low carbon footprint – a winning (and profitable) combination.
If you are interested in purchasing Fleckvieh, please get in touch.
*Data from Genetic Austria
**Data from Celtic Sires