Peter Høj with heifers at Haugstedgaard

Genomic testing makes the difference at Haugstedgaard

Breeding based on genomic tests helps to create surprises and few things to flourish, believes the cattle farmer behind the top bull VJ Chief,

VJ Chief, NTMg 28, VJ Choko x VJ Hilario bred by Peter Høj

Peter Høj’s commitment to Danish Jerseys is beyond doubt. Shortly after discussing Genomic testing with VikingGenetics, he slips away to Ejby to help honour a cow that has yielded more than 10,000 kg of fat and protein. He is chairman of Funen Cattle, member of Danish Jersey Breeding Forum but most importantly, he is third generation to own Haugstedgaard at Ny Stenderup, South Funen. (Fyn Haug was bred at Haugstedgaard)

Recently, Peter Høj has sold some more bulls to Viking. Among them is the top bull VJ Chief (VJ Choko x VJ Hilario), who is now on the national usage plan.

Peter Høj in the barn with the milking herd

Genomic testing which Peter started six years ago makes all the difference, Peter now regards genomic testing as an important tool in his breeding work, and now tests all heifers.

“All of a sudden, something like that points to lines you have not seen before. That is is exactly what genomic selection can do.  It is not necessarily just the way the cow looks, but also what it can pass on to the next generations. It is therefore very dangerous to breed by phenotypes, because it can go both ways,” says Peter Høj, adding, that he has worked with breeding Jerseys for the last 40 years and has seen many cows winning prizes at agricultural shows without passing on any genetic merit, “The cow has been an individual. One out of 100. It has had individual genes that could not be carried further,” he explains.

Haugstedgaard from the air

A broad focus

The experienced cattle farmer not only has to focus on the traits he wants to breed. He is also aware bulls can have properties that can be hard to get rid of.” It takes, for example, several generations in a cow family, to breed well placed teats again,” he says.

Peter Høj overlooking a group of heifers

Peter Høj likes to build a good dialogue with the breeding adviser from Viking to decide on the bulls to be used in the breeding plan. He has strong views about which bulls are required. At the same time, he has great respect and trust in the work of the breeding advisor. And he really appreciates their cooperation, he states. The goal of the breeding work, the strategy of achieving what one wants, is in its way, quite simple:

“I’ve seen my perfect cow in my dreams, and in my mind’s eye. And we are going to continue in our attempts to attain it,” says Peter Høj with a smile. “We will never finish breeding. There is always something we can do better,” he states.

  • Peter Høj
  • Farm situated in South Fyn
  • 148 Cows
  • 11,700 (25,794 Lbs) ECM

The above article was translated and adapted from an article in Viking Nyt May 2020. Viking Nyt is an in-house magazine of VikingGenetics. I am very grateful for their agreement to publish this here. I thank VikingGenetics for their help

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