The Jersey Cattle Society UK has joined forces with Scandinavian farmer co-op Viking Genetics, to broaden the scope of both organisation’s breeding programmes.
According to the society, the move will benefit both UK Jersey breeders and Viking Genetics, which is owned by 20,000 dairy and beef farmers.
“First, the agreement enlarges the gene pool from which the genetics company can select its potential bull mothers,” a Jersey Cattle Society UK statement said.
“Second, it broadens the opportunity for UK breeders to be rewarded for producing Jerseys with internationally competitive indexes and pedigrees.”
And it explained that the animals would be identified using Viking’s selection index – the Nordic Total Merit (NTM) – which is similar to the UK’s Profitable Lifetime Index (£PLI).
Cattle with the best bloodlines could go on to be potential bull mothers or used for embryo contracts through the combined Viking Jersey programme.
Manager for Viking Jersey Peter Larson said: “The Jersey Cattle Society UK represents the second-largest Jersey population in Europe and has many interesting outcross pedigree combinations with a wide diversity of bloodlines.
“Over many years it has developed its Jersey cattle from the native UK and Jersey island base, adding bloodlines from the US, Canada and New Zealand.”
As a result, the UK society has more diverse pedigrees than those commonly seen in many other countries, including the Viking Genetics nations of Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
“The larger genetic base of the combined Nordic and UK populations now makes ours the third-largest Jersey breeding programme in the world,” said Mr Larson.
It also equips Viking Jersey to produce the 35-40 young bulls expected to join the stud every year, he added.
Jersey Cattle Society UK chairman John Whitby said the agreement meant members had the opportunity to take part in an important international breeding scheme.
“The arrangement gives full access to the entire Viking Jersey stud and puts UK breeders in an equal position when it comes to acquiring the latest Nordic genetics.
“It may even help our members discover high-calibre bloodlines in their herds they may not have been aware of and gives them the opportunity to capitalise on their value.
“Furthermore, by acquiring genomic information for some of their cattle funded by Viking Genetics, it may encourage them to embrace genomic testing,” said Mr Whitby.
This practice is routine in all offspring across the Scandinavian countries and could unlock another avenue to making genetic progress in UK breeders’ herds, he said.
Jersey producers who would like to be considered for the programme should contact the society on 01926 484035.