When Mount Schank dairyfarmer Michael Green wanted to improve the health and fertility of his herd back in 2004, he added Australian Reds.
In March next year he will show his integrated herd to the world when he hosts delegates from the International Red Dairy Breed Federation conference.
The conference and tour, held every three years, are being hosted by the Australian Red Dairy Breed on behalf of the International Red Dairy Breeds Federation from March 22 to 29.
Mr Green farms on a 167-hectare irrigated milking platform with about 300 Aussie Reds, 300 New Zealand Friesians and 50 three-way cross cows with Montbeliardes as the third breed.
Mr Green and his family began farming near Mount Schank in 2001 after moving from New Zealand. Their farm came with 600 North American-based Holsteins.
“We’d never experienced Holstein Friesians from North American standards,” Mr Green said. “All we knew was New Zealand so we crossed the Holsteins with (Kiwi-cross cows) and carried on.”
In 2004, they introduced Aussie Reds to improve herd health and fertility, a decision that has paid dividends at calving time.
After a tour of Sweden in 2004 Mr Green started with 400 straws of Swedish Red semen for crossbreeding.
In 2008 they bought 300 purebred Australian Reds from John and Monica Williams, Meningie.
“We started crossbreeding our original herd to breed out the black and white genetics,” he said. “The good cow families are now purebred.”
It took me a while to get used to the Reds because we hadn’t dealt with them before, but I really like them now.
They have had 42 classified Excellent Aussie Reds, with 10 bred from his original herd from 2004. That includes one at 93 points and three at 92 points.
Sire selection is based on smaller stature, fertility, lower milk volume with higher milk components, longevity and disease resistance, with a focus on feet and legs.
The Reds, Friesians and crossbreds run in the same herd.
“We only split them for herd testing,” Mr Green said.
“They complement each other, though the Reds are more aggressive feeders.”
The farm’s peak came in 2013-14, achieving close to 700 kilograms of milk solids a cow, though poor springs in recent years have reduced that figure.
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Overall, the farm produces six million litres and rears 150 heifer calves on whole milk from the vat.
Mr Green is a convert to the Aussie Reds.
“It took me a while to get used to the Reds because we hadn’t dealt with them before, but I really like them now,” he said. “They’re very strong and healthy and very protective of their calves; very mothering compared to the Holsteins.”
The farm has a good standing in the industry, with young bulls sold for progeny testing and has exported Aussie Red heifers to Vietnam, the Philippines and Pakistan.
His contact in Pakistan milks a herd of 2000 and is still milking daughters of two bulls he talked Mr Green into selling when selecting red heifers.
Mr Green said conference delegates would see the entire herd.
- Details: irdbf2019.com.au