The Swedish red cattle breed, as the name would suggest, is one native to Sweden and a very productive dairy breed.
This was due to the Swedish Red breed being developed using genetics from Scottish Ayrshire cattle English Milking Shorthorn cattle, two highly productive dairy breeds. This is where the Swedish Red gains its red colour, with patchy white spots and high-quality milk type.
A joint-breeding program which first began over fifty years ago, has seen the incorporation of many other red-coloured breeds into the genetic profile of the Swedish Red cow. This includes breeds such as the Norwegian red and others breeds such as the Danish Red from Denmark and West Finn cattle of Finland.
Known by many names, the breed became officially known as the Swedish Red cow in 1928. There are currently just over 290,000 Swedish Red Cows worldwide.
But could they prove profitable for an Irish Dairy farm?
In short, yes Swedish Red cattle could easily prove profitable on Irish farms and can even compete with the production levels of the average Holstein cow and are also known to have a lot less health problems.
In fact, Swedish red cows are more than capable of producing in excess of 8,000kgs of milk per year, with a fat content of 4.31% and protein at 3.58%. They also have a substantially lower average cell count than Holstein cattle for example, at 81,000, while they also have a lower number of mastitis cases than other breeds.
They breed were originally kept as a dual-purpose breed, for both dairy and beef, though are predominantly kept for dairy production nowadays. At full maturity, Swedish Red cows can weigh up to 600kgs with some bulls weighing as much as 1,000kgs!
The breed is very hardy and robust in nature, with Swedish Red cows famed for their longevity and superior udder health. Swedish cattle are also able to resist any stresses caused by high production. Cows are also known to be extremely easy calvers, with an average calving interval of 13.1 months for first calvers and a calving difficulty 3.46%.
One of the main benefits of introducing Swedish Red genetics into the herd, is that they pass on desirable traits to their offspring when crossed with other breeds, making them the perfect choice for crossbreeding purposes. Many farmers have rid their herd of some of the health problems associated with other breeds, by crossing them with Swedish Red animals. Crossing Swedish Red with Holstein cattle has become increasingly popular in the US.
A polled breed more than capable of thriving in any climate, could we be seeing the introduction of Swedish Red genetics to dairy herds throughout the country in 2019?