Poppe Freestyle fulfils the ideals of his breeders

Poppe Freestyle fulfils the ideals of his breeders

The ambition of Jan Poppe of Poppe Holsteins is high milk production per cow. He applies a strict feeding strategy and considers a 500-day calving interval ideal. Persistent cows with a natural urge for high production are the best fit in this system. The international top bull Poppe Freestyle, bred by the Poppe family, is given plenty of opportunities to show his prowess on the farm.

Jan Poppe from Zwolle has his own vision of how he wants to milk his herd. ‘The most interesting quality for us in financial terms is high milk production from each cow. But the cows have to achieve this under their own steam and be trouble-free producers’, he adds. ‘As most health problems are associated with the time around calving, we prefer to keep ample time between each calf. On our farm, the average calving interval is longer than 500 days‘, according to the farmer who, with his wife Ingrid and daughter Julia, has a herd of 160 cows. On the farm’s second location, Jan's brother and sister-in-law milk a herd of 120 cows.

The Poppe family's cows are milked by robots 3.4 times a day on average. They are fed a high-quality basic ration at the feed fence. To maintain high milk production, good persistency is vital according to the farmers. The focus of the breeding goal is on kilograms of fat and protein combined with functional conformation. ‘We have used bulls in the past that transmitted a little less milk and high component percentages, or bulls with super conformation and lower production. But we were often disappointed with the performances of their daughters’, is how Poppe describes his experiences.

Poppe Holsteins

The Fienchens produce with ease

The Fienchens are a cow family that flourishes in the herd management system of the Poppe family. ‘The cows in this family are perfectly capable of standing their own against the other strong cow families in our herd’, says Jan Poppe. ‘The Fienchens always have good feet and legs, show good chest width and sufficient muscularity. This means they produce plenty of milk with ease’, explains the breeder.

The matriarch of the family is the now 13.5 year-old Stol Joc daughter Fienchen 580. She is classified with 89 points for overall conformation and has achieved lifetime production to date of 116,990 kg of milk. ‘She is still in super condition and will soon be calving for the sixth time’, says Poppe. The Fienchens also score impressively in breeding. The high number of flushes means their influence is growing fast in our herd. In addition, the family has also attracted high interest from national and international AI organisations. This has resulted in several bulls that merit high scores on the international rankings.


20,000 kg milk as a heifer

One of the Poppe bulls who is performing extremely well on several international total merit indexes is Poppe Freestyle (see box). He is a son of Fienchen 1569, a red-and-white Born P daughter and a great-grand daughter of Fienchen 580 via Silver and Danillo successively. She attracted a great deal of attention already as a heifer and several of her sons have progressed to the breeding barns of AI organisations. As a heifer, Fienchen 1569 fully met all the expectations. She is classified with 85 points for conformation, including 87 for her udders. She also recorded a list of more than 20,000 kg of milk as a heifer with 4.58% fat and 3.81% protein in 497 days. This represents a lactation value of 125 in the highly-productive herd. With her breeding values, Fienchen 1569 can still compete with high calves and she was widely used for breeding as a heifer.

Functional and persistent cows

The genomic breeding values of Poppe Freestyle (s. Gywer) reflect many of the qualities of the Fienchen family. He transmits sky high production in kilograms of fat and protein. His daughters will be very persistent with the ability to achieve high production with the utmost ease and they convert feed efficiently into milk. This high-calibre, international CRV bull has great scores for longevity and health traits with an outlier being his score for somatic cell count. The udder traits really stand out in the classifier's conformation report. Freestyle passes on the A2A2 variant of beta casein-protein and also makes a good choice as a calving ease bull. Thanks to his outcross pedigree he can be widely used in both the black-and-white and red-and-white populations.

Jan Poppe takes every opportunity to use Freestyle. ‘He already struck me as a calf. Not just because of his high genomic breeding values. Everything about him seemed to be right: he looked good and had super feet and legs’, he remembers. ‘Freestyle produces functional cows that will give many kilos of fat and protein persistently, efficiently and with no problems. That is precisely the profile we are looking for in our breeding strategy.’