Ask any farmer which is their preferred diary breed and they will say Fresian. Ask why and they will tell you it produces more milk and therefore more cash. But they forgetvone funda-mental thing which should have enabled them to go for smaller breeds depending on their plan and available resources. The end result is normally a huge initial investment in buying a Fresian cross or a much higher price for the pure breed and thereafter getting less milk; much lower than their expectation.
Many farmers have called me to their farm to solve for them the puzzle of their Freshians not producing enough milk as expected! In all these farms a root cause analysis pointed to poor feeding; a few previous mastitis resulting from dirty environment of incomplete milking – in summary poor ani-mal husbandry.
Now you need to know a few things about Fresian. This will make you be prepared to work hard as a diary farmer if you have to optimally benefit from Fresian or Holstein breed.
Good side of Fresians-Holstein
Holstein has its origin in Nothern Germany while Fresians originally came from Nether-lands. Both have been bred over the years for optimum milk pro-duction.
History has it that Germansvhave a liking fir big things; start with Friesian cows, to German shepherd dogs and German automobiles – size is a main denominator.
Holsteins and Fresians have been for long crossbred a reason why the two names are often used interchangeably.
Fresians have a characteristic white and black hair coat. The average weight of a Fresian is about 600kg at full maturity ; the huge body size has found favour with beef production and as a result some countries breed Fresian for meat.
Fresian bull calves respond well to intensive beef production and are ideal for short finishing far-mers. Fresians have a greater longevity with some recording up to 12 lactations in their lifetime. They havee excellent conception rate and will mature as earlier as 13 months with good feeding.
Crossbreeding has come in handy in producing generations of crosses that can withstand the harsh climatic conditions in Afri-ca while at the same time produ-cing relatively more milk. A pedigree cow produces between 8,500 and 10,000kg of milk per year.
The other side of Fresians-Holsteins
All the above good things about Fresian don’t just come like that! They carry a terms and conditi-ons that must be applied for the genetic potential to be expressed in the level of production.
Their introduction into the tropi-cs requires a bit of adjustment. Fresians in the tropics are prone to the cancer of third eyelid and skin photosensitivity due to cont-inous exposure to sunlight excess sunlight.
Fresian have low heat tolerant abilities and will thus do well in cool regions. Worst of all is their susceptibility tobtick borne dise-ases. In as much as Friesians pro-duce more milk, the butter fat content is relatively low.
Perhaps their greatest challenge to farmers is heavy feeding. Frie-sians are heavy feeders. They will require 50-70kg of fresh feeds and over 60 litres of water daily. That is what goes into milk. As you might be aware, feeds make the greatest cost in farming.
Many farmers compromise this; when this happens milk produ-ction is greatly affected.
Because they are great milk pro-ducers they also have the highest risk of mastitis infections which have a negative lifelong effect on milk production.
Because it is prone to tick borne diseases, regular spraying and stricy biosecurity measures on the farm is key.
In conclusion, when well managed Fresians have the pote-ntial to give lots of milk and cash.