5. Breed to terminal sire

The Sowray family from Bowes Green Farm, Harrogate have seen benefits from implementing strategy 5 of the National Farm Management Plan in their flying 450 Holstein Freisan herd.

What has been done so far to control Johne’s?
Cows are served to a terminal beef sire and the offspring are sold as premium calves. The aspiration is to source replacements from herds with lower levels of Johne’s disease; although status is not always fully understood. Testing of suspect cases is performed and this informs future sourcing strategies from source farms.

As their farm vet Jonathan Statham from Bishopton veterinary warns, cows will still develop Johne’s disease and so still need to be removed from the herd.  This number has reduced over time as cows are purchased from generally lower risk herds.
Why was this strategy chosen?
The herd already sold calves at premium prices, so it was a rational tactic to use a comprehensive terminal sire beef strategy.
What benefits has the farm found from using this strategy?

  • Simplification of calving cow and calf management;
  • Small targeted need for MAP testing with associated cost;
  • Vastly reduced rearing costs in herd;
  • Flexibility to respond to market forces rapidly in tough economic climate

What other tips could you offer in support of the Johne’s strategy?
For success, the strategy – as with any part of the Johne’s Management Plan requires commitment to sourcing replacement milking cows of high quality using good networks of trading, alongside a good eye for dairy cattle, good trading skills and a comprehensive vaccination and purchased stock risk strategy for other diseases such as BVD, IBR and bTB in conjunction with the herd vet.