State over-judging: Tasmania
Judge: Kelvin Cochrane, Amamoor, QLD
Entries: 147 (2015 - 140)
Farms: 20 (2015 - 17) Tasmanian operations impressed Queensland judge Kelvin Cochrane just as much as the exciting individual cows he was pointing during the 16th annual Semex-Holstein Australia On-Farm competition.
The Amamoor dairyfarmer was charged with placing the Apple Isle’s state finalists in the nationwide contest that includes close to 3000 cows and 500 farms.
Mr Cochrane said he was well aware of the profile cows who have come out of Tasmania and excelled at International Dairy Week (IDW).
But he was also interested to see what Tasmania contributes to Australia’s dairy industry demographic across the board.
“I knew there was going to be tremendous cows down there – obviously,” he said.
“We have all seen the profile cows come to the mainland and do damage at International Dairy Week.
"But what probably did surprise me was just how many top quality herds there were, and how they were getting it done.”
Several of Mr Cochrane's champions came out of herds that have conquered the bottom-line of their dairying operations with innovation and progressive thinking.
Garry and Bev Carpenter are a case in point.
The South Riana couple won the mature class with Wandilla Goldwyn Amelie 4-IMP-ET. Amelie is milking in their first robotic dairy – just one of the family’s three dairy operations on different farms.
With the support of an investor – who has bought the land for two of their more recent operations – they are now establishing their third (and their second robotic) dairy.
The home farm – which the Carpenters own and base themselves from – is currently milking 580 cows through a 26-a-side double-up herringbone.
Amelie is the top producing cow in their 160-cow herd, which is being milked by three robots at Gunns Plains, 10 minutes from the home farm.
It was milking 58 litres a day (off grass with support of up to 12 kilograms of pellets/day).
When judging was completed – with 10 hours milk on – Amelie gave 37.5 litres.
Judge Kelvin Cochrane described Amelie as a lasting memory for him.
“She was a cow that really grabbed me,” he said.
“As soon as I saw her I went straight to her, whipped out my phone and started making a video of her before I knew who she was, or what she was. She’s the best cow I saw down there.”
The Carpenters' third farm will be operational by February 2017 and it will include another four working robots (but it will be plumbed for six).
In the three-year-old class John Evans was at the heart of another diverse good news story that included struggle and success.
He reared his three daughters largely on his own from when they were teenagers, and as a family they are all farming.
Mr Evans recently bought a tree plantation, which adjoins his farm, and he is clearing it with the aim of adding value to the home farm.
His herd's registered name - Krisamdon - is a blend of his three daughters’ names – Kristy (who is in the industry along with her English partner Ben Maile), Samantha (Armstrong, who farms at Smithton with her husband Steven), Donna (and partner Mike Rollins who farm at Caveside on a farm they lease from John).
John, 58, today enjoys life with fiancée Colleen Breen.
On his farm cows are fed 6kg pellets/day through the dairy and doesn’t irrigate.
He prefers to buy in lucerne silage, hay and grass silage. He also makes a lot of his own fodder.
With a rotation of 40 days, his aim is to protect the herd – which averages 500 kilograms milk solids per cow - from potential drought.
It was Mr Evans's second-calved three-year-old, Krisamdon Guthrie 322, who impressed Mr Cochrane ahead of the state’s best.
“The Guthrie was left-field,” Mr Cochrane said.
“She was a strand-out in her herd. I have since told a few people to go buy her, and put a halter on her. She was tall, super-dairy and she had a cracking rear udder.”
Mr Evans was understandably modest. “She’s tall for her age and if she can get a few more calves on her she’ll be one of the best cows I’ve ever owned,” he said. “She surprised me actually.”
This year’s four-year-old Champion gave a nod to arguably and historically the strongest competitor in Tasmania – Ross and Leanne Dobson of Fairvale Holsteins at Bracknell.
Fairvale Dazzler Repa 57 hit Mr Cochrane between the eyes.
The Dobsons are milking 370 cows, shipping four million litres a year off their 240ha property. In addition to Repa heading her class, Fairvale had two Reserve Champion titles.
“For me, the four-year-old in particular was a ridiculously strong class,” Mr Cochrane said.
“Anywhere down to 10th could have won our local on-farm in Queensland. The cow that won was in the best form and carrying the best rear udder in the competition.”
The five-year-old State Champion was Datumvale Dolman Ding, owned by Marcus and Jacqui Young, of Ridgley.
The couple milk 250-300 cows year-round.
The VG87 Regancrest Dolman is backed by its VG89 Canyon-Breeze Allen dam x VG87 Juniper Rotate Jed x VG87 Lengora Sultan Valentine. Ding was the Reserve Champion On-Farm four-year-old last year.
Mr Young said they targeted buying into the Ding family early in their career and today there are 61 Dings in their herd (not counting the dry heifers). It is their most prolific family – helped by its penchant for dropping heifers.
“Ding is milking 57 litres/day at the moment and she is our second top production cow,” Mr Young said.
“We haven’t put her in an ET programme to this point, but we will look at it down the track when there is some more money kicking around.”
Datumvale also finished third in the three-year-old.
“This competition was great for us," Mr Young said.
"It was a really good feeling because the milk prices are not the greatest and everyone is having to work through that.
"We do have a fixed contract for half our milk, which is a bit of a blessing in disguise.”
The two-year-old Champion was originally intended for the state’s informal Progeny Test class. However, she proved too compelling. Dial View Echo Max, was moved to the open class where it took the title.
Dial View’s home farm is owned in partnership by Matthew and Rachel Radford, and Matthew’s brother, Andrew.
It milks 300 cows on 100ha. The family partnership also milks 300 cows on a second 120ha property (which is sharefarmed by Matthew and Lyndal Luck). The family partnership has also teamed with Matthew and Lyndal Luck (in partnership) on an 80ha leasehold farm milking 200 cows.
Two year old 1st: Dial View Echo Max, Radford Bros, Dial View Holsteins, Riana, Tas.
2nd: Garerley Showman Semester 2, GW & BJ Carpenter & family, Garerley Holsteins, South Riana, Tas.
Three year old 1st: Krisamdon Guthrie 322, J & A Evans, Krisamdon Holsteins, Caveside, Tas.
2nd: Fairvale Adair Josie 97, R & L Dobson, Fairvale Holsteins, Bracknell, Tas.
Four year old 1st: Fairvale Dazzler Repa 57, R & L Dobson, Fairvale Holsteins, Bracknell, Tas.
2nd: Hindlee Lauthority Dazzle 12401-ET, J & V Lillico, Hindlee Holsteins, Smithton, Tas.
Five year old 1st: Datumvale Dolman Ding, M & J Young, Datumvale Holdings Pty Ltd, Ridgley, Tas.
2nd: Fairvale Damion Josie 75, R & L Dobson, Fairvale Holsteins, Bracknell, Tas.
Mature 1st: Wandilla Goldwyn Amelie 4-IMP-ET, GW & BJ Carpenter & family & Wandilla Pastoral Co., South Riana, Tas.
2nd: Linsand Apple Dixie, LR & SJ Thompson, Linsand Holsteins, Bracknell, Tas.