IT was a bittersweet day for Grant Liebelt, Paris Creek, as his Grantley Holstein stud was dispersed after 47 years in the industry.
Mr Liebelt said it was tricky decision to retire from the dairy sector, but felt that it was the right time.
“With milk at 30 cents a litre, the time had come,” he said.
Mr Liebelt has been in the industry since leaving school and has been breeding stud cattle for most of that time.
On Wednesday last week, he and wife Bronwyn Johnson dispersed their milking herd through a sale conducted between Dairy Livestock Services and AuctionsPlus.
The top price at the dispersal was $12,000, paid for lot 27, six-year-old Grantley Allen Flora, classified very good 86.
It was bought by Adrian and Waylon Barron, Cambooya, Qld.
“The Flora family has been the heart and soul of the herd since we started,” Mr Liebelt said. “It’s a magnificent pedigree.”
Grantley Damion Fantasy-ET, a six-year-old cow with five generations of very good and excellent classified cows behind it, sold for $8700 to Mitchell Jones, Foster, Vic.
Mr Liebelt said there were four full Damion sisters, also with the Flora bloodline, on offer.
Three classified excellent the week before the sale, with the fourth unable to be classified because it was dry but possibly “the best of the lot”.
“That’s a major achievement,” he said.
Other highlights were Grantley LAuthority Jane-ET Ex90-1E, which sold for $7700, Grantley Reginald Biddy VG87 at $6500, Grantley Reginald Sky at $6400, Grantley Brendal Opal VG87 at $5750, Grantley Sailing Jack at $5000 and Grantley Levan Pontiac GP83, which sold at $5250.
The sale had a 96 per cent clearance rate with 118 sold of 122 offered, averaging $2575, with cattle heading to four states.
“I’m really happy to get my cows into good herds in Vic, Qld and even one to a WA breeder,” Mr Liebelt said.
DLS auctioneer Brian Leslie said the sale had strong demand for the top cows, most of which were sold to interstate buyers.
“There was good buying in other cattle, but overall it was a successful sale,” Mr Leslie said.
“The cows presented in tremendous order from a very well-respected herd.
“Some of the breeders who bought are the best-known in the industry and I think we will hear a lot more about these cows.
“The strong interstate interest is testament to the quality of the Grantley cattle.”
Mr Liebelt said he would still maintain contacts in the dairy industry, with his daughter Bridget Liebelt having started her own stud – Torlea Holsteins.
He has also held on to some calves and unmated heifers and might keep his eye in with breeding, as well as keep some for showing.
“You can’t do it for 47 years and just quit,” he said.
“I’ve made too many friends, here and overseas, to not keep going (with showing).”
Mr Liebelt said one of his first goals was to take a holiday with his wife.
He said there had been several highlights throughout the nearly half-century of breeding.
In 1983, the stud won supreme and grand champion broad ribbons at the Royal Adelaide Show, as well as a number of other ribbons at Adelaide, Mount Pleasant and International Dairy Week throughout the years.
In 1988, Grantley Holsteins took a team to the Sydney Royal Easter Show to compete during the bicentennial year, and won the aged cow class, received an honourable mention overall and was part of the winning group of five.
“Princess Anne handed out the ribbons – that was a pretty special day,” he said.
Mr Liebelt also won the title of Master Breeder within Holstein Australia at the national conference when it was held in Hahndorf in 2015.
The award recognises the long-term achievements of individuals who have bred at least 300 registered animals across a minimum 20 years.
At the time he had bred 369 animals to be eligible, with 18 production awards and nine lifetime production awards. Of those, five were classified excellent and 81 very good.
“It’s been an amazing trip,” he said.