Each day on a dairy farm brings a new challenge. Väätsa Agro chooses to face those challenges head on. Focusing on people and reproductive management, this 2300-cow dairy is truly an example of how to rebuild a dairy from scratch.
Väätsa Agro is one of the dairies of Trigon Dairy Group. This Estonian-based company, founded in 2006, is comprised of three dairy farms. With a total herd of 7,000 dairy animals, of which 3,550 are milking cows, it is the biggest dairy operation of the Baltics.
Number of Cows: 2300
Milking Parlor: 80-stall carousel
Milk Production: 11 000 kg
Acres: 4000 ha
Pregnancy Rate: 28%
Number of Employees: 90
Customized genetic plan: 50 Production | 50 Health | 0 Conformation
Many dairy farmers remember the struggles of 2009 and the vulnerability of the milk market afterwards. In 2012, this particular farm was purchased out of bankruptcy. With production at 7500 kg and 1,800 cows in several buildings, the new owners knew changes needed to happen. Those changes began in 2014, when they built a new 80-cow carousel. Now, 2,300 cows average 11,000 kg on 3x a day milking. They maintain a current somatic cell count between 100,000 – 140,000, and cows average 2.2 lactations.
In 2013, Väätsa Agro began their partnership with Alta Genetics. Together, we created a genetic plan, evaluated the current situation and set goals for the future. Trigon CEO, Margus Muld, who was recognized as Estonia’s 2017 Farmer of the Year, and also pictured above, follows up by saying, “Constant monitoring enables us to stay motivated and move towards the right direction.”
The right direction for this dairy, is a genetic plan of 50% weight on production, 50% weight on health traits, and no weight on type traits. This specific index was chosen to increase the herd’s production and strengthen health traits for longer lasting cows.
The dairy focuses a lot of their attention on reproduction. They follow a 14-11 day pre-synch / ov-synch program. They cherry pick any cows in heat to breed off the prostaglandin shots if they are ready after their 46-day voluntary wait period.
Eleven days after the second PG2F injection, the following ov-synch protocol is in place:
- DIM 71 GNRH (gonadorelin)
- DIM 78 PG2f (dinoprost)
- DIM 79 PG2f (dinoprost)
- DIM 81 GNRH (gonadorelin) + insemination.
Thirty days post-insemination, animals are ultrasound checked for a pregnancy. Throughout the breeding process, animals wear a DeLaval activity meter to track their heats, health, and habits. Additionally, employees are trained to visually detect heats in animals.
Currently, the farm has two 1,000-cow barns plus a calving barn, with 10-20% overcrowding. They separate manure and use the recycled compost to bed the stalls. The farm employs 50 people including veterinarians, assistants, milkers and A.I. technicians.
In the future, Väätsa Agro plans to increase their herd size to 3,300 cows. They focus all efforts on further upscaling to increase cost-efficiency