VikingGenetics' Herd of the Year 2020 Finland - Auteen Aho farm

Auteen Aho farm was chosen as VikingGenetics’ Herd of the Year 2020 in Finland. The farm is an avid genomic tester and open to new technologies. They do embryo flushes and transfers, and of course, they use VikingGenetics’ genetics on their farm. Auteen Aho farm is owned by Jarmo Kallio and Sari and Ari Kantonen in Taipalsaari, Finland.

Determined development

The history of the farm shows the rapid restructuring of Finnish dairy farms. Sari's grandparents bought the farm in the 1920s and had a few cows alongside the farm tourism business. When Sari and Ari took over the farm in 2001, they had 12 cows. After that, a determined development strategy for the farm began. 

They and some neighbouring relatives founded a joint operation in 2001 and soon a new common barn was home to 70 cows. The most recent expansion was completed in 2015, and now there are 180 dairy cows. The older barn is now inhabited by the heifers. Before, milking took place at a fish bone milking parlour and today, they use parallel milking. Today the milking station can accommodate 32 cows at a time.

Good results and efficient work methods

The cows are mainly VikingHolsteins. The average yield for the last 12 months was 10,491 kg of milk (ECM 11,338 kg) with 4.60% fat and 3.55% protein. First time calvers give birth at 24.7 months of age and the calving interval is 379 days. The insemination rate is at 1.72 per pregnancy. The cows are calving on average 3.1 times.

At Auteen Aho farm, decisions are made together between the owners, but Jarmo is reducing his workload, as he’s gradually moving towards retirement days. He’s primarily responsible for the heifers. Sari and Ari take care of the milking herd.
The farm has three hired workers, two are involved in milking and one takes care of the cultivation work with Ari. Ari does the inseminations himself, and the doses are stored in the farm’s container. They use SenseHub to help the heat monitoring.

High quality feed

“Feeding has a big impact on what is left below the line,” Ari states. They adjust the feeding plan at an individual level. Success at individual level has a big impact at herd level, especially on a large herd.

High-yielding, recently calved cows are on a different feeding plan than the cows at the end of their lactation and dry cows. Feed consists of high-quality silage, mash, rapeseed, crushed grain, molasses and minerals. They grow grass on their own fields and all grains are purchased.

The aim is an economic cow

The breeding enthusiasm has been ignited by close cooperation with a breeding advisor from Faba (The Finnish cooperative owner of VikingGenetics). “Our farm has an amazing herd of cows, and a lot of it is thanks to our breeding expert’s help,” the couple says. Our advisor knows the pedigrees of our cows thoroughly, does professional evaluations of the herd, follows the farm performance and selects the right VikingGenetics’ bulls for mating.

Their breeding goal is an economic cow. Good production with good solids. They aim for a balanced, uniform herd with cows that have good legs and health. They also aim to keep the cows medium sized. At Auteen Aho farm, all female calves are having genomic tests, which is a great help in animal selection and finetuning the herd planning. The beef insemination percentage is about 40%. If necessary, they use sexed semen X-Vik doses.

Last year, they sold a heifer called Peach gNTM ​​+33 (VH Romello) for the VikingEmbryo programme. Peach performed outstandingly – she produced a total of 21 flush and 15 OPU embryos. 

Balance is everything

Sari and Ari met in Hämeenlinna at school and they are both bio and process technology engineers. “There is no harm in the education we have on a dairy farm,” Sari says. It is good to know and understand the whole process from the beginning of production all the way to the store shelf. Their daughter is studying to become an agrologist. So far, she’s more interested in horses than cows.

The couple emphasize that having enough free time is important. Sari does porcelain painting and language studies, and Ari’s hobby is singing to balance out the work life. 

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