Gert Glob Lassen took over Ellinglund Økologi (organic) farm in Silkeborg, Denmark, from his father in 2006. Gert and his wife Anne are passionate organic milk producers and have become a reference farm in Europe for efficiency and success with the three-way crossbreeding system, ProCROSS.
Lassen’s father switched from pure Holstein to ProCROSS cows in 2002. At that time, they were facing many challenges with health issues in their animals. Veterinary costs increased due to many cases of mastitis and reduced fertility. Lack of longevity was another of the difficulties facing the farm.
Now, 17 years after the change in breeding strategy, the Lassens are keen to identify those areas where they can save costs and improve the performance of the dairy farm. Feed for the cows is one of the most important areas they focus on.
“Feed is the biggest cost you have on a farm. We are always looking for savings. If you can save just one percentage every day; that is a lot of money,” Lassen says. “We know our cows do their job, they stay healthy and productive, they eat and produce at their best,” he adds.
Having a healthy, organic ProCROSS herd of 340 cows with average production of 10,389kg ECM (Energy Corrected Milk), “efficiency” is not just a word. “The less your costs to get milk, the more competitive you can be,” he says.
Last summer, the University of Minnesota, that has headed several research projects regarding the crossbreeding system ProCROSS, presented the results of a study into feed efficiency that showed that ProCROSS cows are inherently able to convert feed more efficiently into milk solids compared to pure Holstein cows. Dairy farmers like Lassen already know this from everyday practice: ProCROSS cows are high performers when it comes to feed efficiency.
The trial also demonstrated that ProCROSS cows are in a significantly better physical condition than pure Holsteins of the same body weight. “The smaller frame sizes of ProCROSS cows combined with superior physical condition improves fertility and health which are other advantages of ProCROSS cows over Holstein,” says Professor Les Hansen, who headed the research studies in Minnesota.
Lassen explains that the physical condition is also a “plus” in his organic herd: “Physical body condition means more muscle - not skinny cows - that also keeps them healthy, and they will achieve a better price when we send them for slaughter,” he says.
With an annual average of 4.06% fat and 3.42% protein, Ellinglund is one of the best organic crossbreed herds with high performance and one of the most prestigious herds in Denmark.
340 cows. Crossed between: VikingHolstein, VikingRed and Montbeliarde. Performance goal is 11,000 kg of milk ProCROSS cow.
Land and feed
Approx. 600 ha with grass, rye and oats, which are primarily used for feed.
The cows are housed on sand beds. All animals are out to pasture in summer. Milked twice a day in a carousel.
Three full time Danish employees and seven part-time employees who work three full-time equivalent hours
Wife Anne, four children.