Like many farms around our district, the make up of the stock originated from Jersey bloodlines and various crossbreeds. However, since the late 1960’s, there has been a definite and conscious move towards breeding solely Holstein Friesian cows. In the mid 1980’s, Mark’s return to the farm saw a bolstered effort in using only Holstein Friesian semen through AI. Some of those bulls were Quantock Josie Starlight (QJS), Ingolston R T Satellite (IOLS), Chinell Raelene Magic (CRIC), Gelnjoy Griffland Randy (GLIF) and Carenda Supreme Preston (CSUP).
In 2005 we began registering our herd for the first time. Due to years of excellent record keeping, we were able to register approximately 70 cows as pure bred in our first year, plus a large number of appendix animal. In 2005 and 2006 we only registered pure bred calves, however in 2007, we decided to register all calves regales of appendix status in order to speed up the process of registering the entire herd. 2007 saw us classify animals for the first time, and we were delighted that a number of our first lactation heifers scored Good Plus. One heifer scored Very Good (VG) 85 and one of our 4yo cows (Craiglands Luckystrike 2843) scored VG89 in her first classification.
In 2007 Craiglands Luckystrike 2843 took out Grand Champion and Best Udder (interbreed) at the Colac Show. In August 2008 she was the donor cow in our very first flush program.
Our herd is made up of approximately 450 milking cows, 100 yearlings, 130 calves and 20 odd dry stock. We artificially inseminate (AI) all cows and heifers to get them into calf and use a Jersey bulls as mop ups for any cows that didn’t get into calf through AI.
In 2017, our bull team was made up of semen from Genetics Australia. In previous years we normally use sexed semen over our heifers and our first calved cows, however we have been genetically testing our calves for a few years, so we are able to mate based on cow BPI. This year, we used a base BPI of 50 and above to mate to sexed semen in heifers only. All cows were also ranked on BPI with higher scores mated to bulls with high BPI and cows with low BPIs mated to genomic or PT bulls. Our 2017 bull team is made up off 3 sexed and 9 conventional bulls.
The goals that we strive to attain on our breeding program are most likely the same as most dairy farmers, which are:
- good components (fat and protein)
- good feet and legs
- good udder attachment
- calving ease
- longevity of cows
- high fertilityEach
Each year we also classify all first calve cows using Holstein Australia classifiers. This independent assessment of the cows allows us a outside view of the cows conformation and type (because lets face it, we all think our own cows are great!). Going forward, we will be using these individual assessments coupled with genetic information, herd test data and on farm health records to individualise mating.