Manuela Illgen is the manager of the 600-cow dairy cattle branch of the agricultural cooperative Langenchursdorf e.G. located in the administrative district of Zwickau, Saxony.
“If the world hadn’t been in the grip of the corona pandemic, I would have come back quite recently from the Hockey Masters World Cup 2020 in South Africa, where I was supposed to play as the goalie in an all-star selection of the German national hockey team,” says Manuela Illgen, who fights every bit as fiercely as herd manager for her dairy herd as she does for her hockey team.
Since 2004, Manuela Illgen has headed up the dairy cattle branch of the agricultural cooperative Langenchursdorf e.G. (AGL). Way back in the GDR, she successfully completed her career training as an animal technician and engineer with the focus on milk production.
“We want to breed medium-sized cows that are healthy and robust, move well and give milk with high components percentages.”
About the farm
The herd’s more than 600 milking cows – predominantly black and white, although there are also a couple of Red Holsteins – are housed in free-stall barns equiped with pads and sleeping mats. In the milking centre built in 2004 they are milked three times a day in a double 16 side- by-side parlour supplied by GEA. The cows average nearly 12,000 kg of milk that is supplied to Vogtlandmilch GmbH, Plauen. A total of 12 female and 5 male employees – each one a skilled worker, with eight milkers among them – care for the dairy cattle at all times. “Prospective tractor drivers stand in line for an apprenticeship, but finding people who want to work in dairy farming is like gold dust here in our region. I have trained our younger staff myself,” stresses the herd manager. Work is done according to a three-shift system that is very well adapted to the operational and personnel needs. Seven night shifts are followed by four days off, while seven day shifts are followed by three days off.
AG Langenchursdorf e.G., Callenberg, Germany
Herd: 600 Holsteins & Red Holsteins
Production: 12,358 kg 4.13 % f 3.54 % p
Lifetime production: 31,345 kg
Age at first calving: 25 months
Calving interval: 410 days
Current CRV sires Janick, Jens, Lendor, Empire, Conan and Ranger
Breeding and CRV
“We want to breed medium-sized cows that are healthy and robust, move well and give milk with high component percentages,” explains Manuela when talking about her breeding goal. For 17 years she has already been relying on the mating program SireMatch. “Thanks to SireMatch and CRV genetics we’ve been able to develop an extremely uniform, efficient and healthy herd. We couldn’t have achieved this by ourselves.” She wholeheartedly trusts in Volkmar Schleider. “He prepares the bull selection and chooses the most suitable bull for mating every time. In addition, he examines the herd twice a year. His objective view from outside draws my attention to things that wouldn’t catch my eye this way in everyday life,” explains the herd manager. “Over the years we’ve redefined the breeding goal time and again. Initially, production was at the fore, and then it was the front teats. Today components have priority, since this is what the creamery pays well for.” Success proves her right: At 948 kg fat plus protein her herd ranked Nr. 1 in Saxony in 2019! This shows once again that consistently breeding for herd-customised breeding goals using SireMatch really pays off.
“Thanks to SireMatch and CRV genetics we’ve been able to develop an extremely uniform, efficient and healthy herd.”
In 2019, as one of the first dairy operations in Germany, AGL decided to use HerdOptimizer, the CRV breeding concept whereby healthy and efficient cows can be bred even faster and safer. “Based on HerdOptimizer I do the bull selection together with Volkmar. With this breeding concept I’m able to control and steer the breeding goal even earlier,” Manuela explains. “The easy-to-use software quickly provides me with readily understandable information on all animals.” With HerdOptimizer, the entire herd was genomically tested rapidly so there are second-calvers with DNA results already. “Since we have certain problems with Mortellaro’s disease, we currently focus our attention on hoof health. Using HerdOptimizer you can already breed for this trait in the young stock at an early stage. With HerdOptimizer I also rely on Volkmar, who has always supported us very competently in our endeavour to develop our perfect herd. All I can say about my competent and likeable CRV consultant is a big thumbs up!”
HerdOptimer GO > Genomic testing for the next generation herd
HerdOptimizer Go is a tool to gain easy insight in the genetic potential of your herd. This customised breeding concept and management tool contains female genotyping and the possibility to personalise your mating advice using SireMatch.
- Realise your breeding goal faster, for a healthier and efficient herd with better conformation and improved milk production
- Increase your farm’s profitability by up to €980 per cow over three lactations
- Make breeding decisions more easily by using sexed semen on the genetically superior heifers and excluding the genetically inferior heifers
Curious about what HerdOptimizer Go can bring on your farm? Please contact your sales advisor.