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Why one dairy farmer travels to Germany in search of new heifers

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Last month ambassador William Westacott travelled to the Osnabrück region of Germany to buy 44 Holstein-Friesian replacement heifers. We spoke to William about why and how he does this.

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Why do you choose to source your heifers abroad?

 

“We choose to buy from the continent for both economic and health reasons. The region we buy from has no TB, BVD or IBR and herds are closely monitored for Johne’s disease. We’ve never been able to source enough cattle from TB 4 areas and don’t want to be the farm that brings it into Kent, so buying from Germany fits with our health priorities.”

 

Why do you choose Germany specifically?

 

“We’ve previously bought replacements from Holland and France but for the past six years we’ve been going to Germany. We’ve used the same livestock supplier for a number of years, so they know what we’re looking for, making the whole process run smoothly. We also really like the style of cattle from Germany as they tend to be a bit larger.”


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What happens when the cows arrive in England?

 

“When the cattle arrive home they are vaccinated for IBR, BVD, leptospirosis and pregnancy diagnosed again to ensure they’re in calf. They’re also quarantined for two weeks in a shed 800 metres away from the main herd. They won’t join the herd until two months before calving.”

 

William shared his photo journey across Germany with us, as he selects his future herd.

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Arrival

“Arriving in Hannover before making the two-hour journey to the Osnabrück region to select cattle from 34 farms.”

At the farm

“We arrived at the first farm by 9am just in time for morning feeding.”

second farm

“Here we’re at the second farm looking to select more cattle. Note that we’re wearing protective coats and over-boots to prevent transfer of pathogens from other farms.”

the parlour

“Checking out the parlour whilst discussing the herd’s average milk yield and composition with the farmer.”

selection

“Finally, we selected the cows that fitted our criteria and shook hands. We look forward to them arriving in England.”

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