The Norwegian red first became an official breed back in 1935 and are very popular in Europe. In fact, they make up over 98% of all Norwegian cattle numbers. They originate from a colder climate in Norway, so why not use them on Irish Dairy Farms?
They are a dual purpose breed, but are primarily used in their native lands for dairy production. Mature bulls can weigh anything up to 1,300kgs, while cows average at 600kgs, meaning they do also have a purpose for the beef industry.
The Low-down/The Benefits:
- Disease Resistance: The breed is widely known for its great ability at resisting diseases, while it is also known to have a longer life expectancy. This cuts costs for farmers, not only on medicines, but also on replacement heifers.
- Mastitis: If you make the switch to Reds, gone are the days of mastitis and ketosis problems. Cases of these are rare in the breed, while they also have strong feet and legs, meaning lameness is rarely an issue.
- Fertility: The breed are also well-known for their high conception rates and they are often called one of the world’s most fertile breeds.
- Ease of Calving: The breed is also renowned for its ease at calving, which comes in handy during the hectic calving season. Studies have shown that dairy cows, from Norwegian Reds, calf very easily and often. They have extremely low numbers of difficult calving cases, as low as 2%, with less than 3% stillborns.
- Milk: Down to the white stuff, the all important liquid gold. Their milk is said to be of the highest quality, while they also produce it in very high volumes, up to 5,804 per lactation, just below the 6,020 litre average for Frisian. The protein content averages at about 3.4%, while it averages 4.2% fat. The volumes are consistently high and the milk quality will remain as long as your cow remains healthy. The volume is not affected depending on grazing systems, making them perfect for Ireland. They are known to have an excellent rate of milk flow. Some of the best Norwegian Reds can produce up to 16,000kgs of milk, per year!
- Crossbreeding: The breed also excels, when crossed with other breeds. Crossing Holsteins and Norwegian reds has long been lauded and can prove profitable. It does well, with whatever breed it is crossed with and its desirable traits (disease resistance, high fertility and calving ease) are usually passed onto its offspring. Some studies even showed that the gestation period was shorted for cattle crossed with Norwegian reds, while when crossed with Holsteins, protein and fat levels were higher than that of purebred Holsteins.
- Dual Breed: The final benefit, the breed can also be sold into beef production. The breed has long being used as a dual purpose breed and as mentioned above bulls can reach up to 1,300kgs. Males are known to have an average weight gain of up to 1.4kgs per day, meaning more money for farmers!