WHAT started out as a gift for helping a stud during show time has turned into a 50-year career breeding some of the state's best Ayrshires for the Edmonds family.
But it hasn't been without its challenges, through deregulation, supermarket milk wars and price uncertainty.
Greg and Tracey Edmonds, with daughter Jessica, run 110-milking cow Geelunga dairy stud on 63 hectares at Meadows, with 150ha of agistment property across the Adelaide Hills.
Greg started building the stud with his first calf in 1970.
He slowly grew the herd at his family's Echunga property, alongside his father's grade herd and then brother John's Cee Jay Ayrshire stud.
By 1982, the brothers were running the farm milking Ayrshires.
In 1984, the Cee Jay herd moved to Milang, while Geelunga remained at Echunga until 1996 when a property was purchased at Meadows.
Greg said they had outgrown the 20ha Echunga property and the new property had irrigation.
RELATED READING:Dairy industry welcomes international delegates | PHOTOS
"We were also only milking about 50 cows and we have since doubled that," he said.
To keep costs down, Greg says they produce all their own hay and silage, which is fed to the cows during the day, along with fresh pasture at night.
The area is known for its wet winters (average annual rainfall of 835 millimetres), but it also has very dry summers so 25ha of pasture is irrigated and several small blocks are rented to run dry cows, weaners and young heifers.
The cows also get about 2 kilograms of "mill run" pellets at each milking.
"We use pellets as it's easier and saves time than having to use a hammer mill with grain, but it is the only feed we buy in," he said.
The herd calves year-round to ensure year-round, maximum production.
The cows average 6191 litres each, with 442kg milk solids, 3.16 per cent protein and 3.97pc fat.
I prefer the (Ayrshire) breed for their easy care and durability.
Greg says Ayrshires are not as high producing as Holsteins, while fat and protein content is "in the middle".
"But I prefer the breed for their easy care and durability," he said.
Both Tracey and Greg have off-farm work, which has made running the dairy very hectic at times.
So, for the past 10 years a "share-milker" has been employed, with Greg's brother-in-law Wayne Duncan - who runs Ayrshire stud Leeway with Greg's sister Leonie - taking over for the past six years.
Greg says they also recently changed suppliers, now sending their milk to Beston Global Food Company.
Greg said the company's expansion in the region and close client relationships made it an easy decision.
"You feel like a person with Beston, not just a number," he said.
Greg said their past few milk cheques had been the best ever received, but it was needed with the cost of feed and years of low milk prices.
"It's catch-up time, and hopefully it will stay that way because there is a shortage of milk," he said.
They also started breeding beef steers using Murray Grey bulls, with recent high prices for chopper cows and steers welcomed.
This year they gave some Wagyu semen a go for "something different", with Greg saying the four- to five-month-old progeny looked "fantastic" and were very easy calving.
"Even with high feed prices, it has been worth it," he said.
"They also get our waste milk that can't be sent to the factory."
RELATED READING:Ayrshire breeders meet in SA | PHOTOS
Beginners given opportunity
TO support the future of the breed, Geelunga stud owners Greg and Tracey Edmonds run Ayrshires on-farm for up to seven breeders.
"I was given a calf back in the day to get my stud started and I want to do that for others," Mr Edmonds said.
"There are people that want to be involved in the breed that don't own farms."
Greg said as a 14-year-old he desperately wanted to attend the Royal Adelaide Show but his father wouldn't buy him a stud Friesian calf.
So he befriended the son of Ayrshire breeder Colin Davis and joined the Joylinda show team in 1970.
For his services, Greg was gifted Ayrshire calf Joylinda Baroness, which he showed the following year and placed third.
Geelunga has exhibited at Adelaide every year since, with daughter Jessica now the stud's "show manager".
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.