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Pat “Cowboy” Conroy – Shooting straight and straight shooting

Pat Conroy’s piercing blue eyes are as recognizable as his distinctive Minnesotan-born drawl – punctuated by the spit from some tobacco chew tucked securely inside his bottom lip.

Pat has earned his stripes in the industry at every level. And he’s at the top of his game.

Pat and Jeannie Conroy have two children, Kaiden and Zailey. The family call Angola, Indiana, USA, home.

When Pat’s not picking Champions, he’s usually leading them and/or owning them. He has fought for his position in the industry from nothing, using determination and competitiveness. Yet he carries himself nowadays with a quiet confidence and a certainty about where he fits in the industry. He is respected for his ability, honesty, and straight-shooting personality.

While he says he never wanted to judge – nor liked it initially – Pat allowed himself to be drawn into it for a reason. In August, he judged the Western New York Regional Show on the 18th, before flying to Brazil to judge at Agroleite five days later. Two days after that he landed in Australia to oversee the New South Wales State Holstein Show on August 25 and 26. His three days in Nowra was a long way from home, and his own preparations for WDE and The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Canada.

Pat Conroy about to accept Grand Champion from WDE 2015 Holstein judge Nathan Thomas on behalf of Lovhill Goldwyn Katrysha. Pat led Katrysha for her owners MilkSource Genetics of Kaukauna, Wisconsin. That year Pat also judged WDE’s Red & White Holstein show. Photo: The Bullvine.

His 2016 judging résumé alone notably included the Holsteins at WDE, the Swiss Expo Holstein Show and the European National Show. In 2015 he judged WDE’s Red & White Holstein Show, and he was the 2013 WDE’s Junior Holstein Show judge.

Pat has also judged the 2014 All-American Jersey Show in Harrisburg, and the 2015 Brown Swiss Expo in Switzerland.

Boxed and loaded

Pat says when he left home, he had a box of Holstein World magazines, his clothes and little else.

He began cattle fitting aged 16, and by the time he was 19 was working every day of the year in his chosen profession. Pat’s career came at a time when there were a lot of talented fitters available in a busy industry, and he had to be hungry to succeed – let alone to just survive. For the next 16 years, preparing cattle for shows and sales ruled Pat’s life. It took him coast-to-coast in the USA, and into Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Australia.

The competition and his passion kept him sharp.

“Fitting was something I always wanted to do. I always wanted to be around good cattle, and to have the opportunity to work with them. There was a good competition between us all at that time, and from the start, I always wanted to outdo the next guy.”

Pat owns 50 head of show cattle across North America and Europe. Pictured is one of them, Hallow Atwood Twizzle EX93-Max, the 2016 Grand Champion at Cremona, Italy. Pat owns her with All Nure and Gary Jones. Photo: The Bullvine.

Box cut

He pauses, before adding: “Wanting to win made you think. If you don’t have some competitiveness, you stay in neutral. Young guys today – and some won’t like hearing this, but it is true – all they want to do is clip, and that’s it.

“I’m finding that many young people don’t maybe know what a good one is supposed to look like, and so they cut them all in the same.

“Our industry has promoted a lot of bulls over the years that sired a lot of high-pinned heifers. Yet, I’ve seen a lot of fitters still leave big hair on those heifers’ chines – which just makes it worse. They don’t see that the logical thing is to mow her chine off to make her look a little more balanced.”

Skills clipped

“And, I’ll be honest with you – and probably the generation above me said this about us – hardly any of the current crop of fitters would have survived in our era. They don’t know how to work, and a lot of them aren’t good cow people. So, if a cow is sick, they don’t know what to do – they disappear like a flock of birds when the going gets tough. They’re just clippers, that’s it.

“They’ve been spoiled and spoon-fed because there’s a shortage of fitters. In our day, you had to be good or no-one hired you. Now, they can be busy every week. Everyone wants US$250 a day when they start working, and kids now all seem to need a safe place if someone says something they don’t like. What is that? My wife and I have robust discussions about this all the time – I think it’s important that kids learn how to work hard and take the knocks.”

He says intelligent hard-working fitters remain potential game-changers.

“Good clipping really does make a big difference on heifers – on cows, not so much. You can make a good heifer great by the way she’s prepared and managed – no question. Equally, you can make a great heifer middle of the road if you don’t get her preparation right.”

Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra EX97 wowed the world. The thrice Swiss Expo Grand Champion was one of the few cows Pat Conroy chose stay with for her entire ride. Photos: Wolfhard Schulz.

Fitting into ownership

As he grew into his fitting career, Pat started to focus on building capital. He says it wasn’t hard to become addicted to buying cows – and he fearlessly backed himself. Decrausaz Iron O’Kalibra EX97 remains his personal pick.

Born September 4, 2008, O’Kalibra would go on to be the 2013 European Champion, thrice Grand Champion at the Swiss Expo (2012, 2013 and 2015) and the 2015 All-World Champion. She is Europe’s most famous cow, and the vibrations of her influence were also felt in Australia, when her Goldchip daughter sold for an Australasian record price of $112,000 in 2015.

Usually when he buys, Pat intends to sell them on. It’s the reality of a cattle marketer’s life. However, this time he chose to stay with O’Kalibra until the end, which came in May this year when she passed away.

O’Kalibra was bred by Fredy Decrausaz & Sons. Sired by Boss Iron, she was out of an EX90-2E Integrity daughter, followed by a VG89 Milestone. She had the width Pat loved, and a pedigree they could work with.

“O’Kalibra was just such a good doer and so aggressive. We had a lot of fun with her,” he says.

“She was game-changing for me and she was cheap in the end for what she did for us all. And she was special to me because this time I co-owned her all the way through. There’s been a lot I’ve sold through the years – and you love to see them do well for other guys – but once in a while, there’s one you want to keep.”

Throwing a fit…  

He smiles as he remembers the day he first saw her, saying he experienced the feeling cowmen often describe when they see a cow they have to have. It is a moment when the world seems to stand still – when the hairs raise up on the back of their necks. And there’s absolutely no hesitation. They just know they need to be part of her journey.

Pat says if he wasn’t so determined he could have easily missed getting aboard the O’Kalibra train.

“They didn’t want to sell part of her at first,” he laughs. “I honestly threw a fit like a kid, because I was so mad. I did – I threw a fit until I got my way. She was one of those cows I had to have, for sure.”

Win some – lose some

Typically honest, Pat is quick to balance the glory with the risk.   

“I’ve lost a lot of money too on cows too. There was four of us in a partnership and we paid US$160,000 for a cow. I thought she’d be a cow to be Champion at Madison [WDE] and the year I had in my mind she could do it, she died. I didn’t have insurance on her, and I was fairly young at the time so it was a fair kick in the teeth. It took a lot to rebound from that one because it kind of cleaned me out.

“Usually the first loss is the best one.

“I built back up, and I made another dumb decision. Three of us bought a nice cow for US$98,000 and a week later she got on the trailer and split her bag. That hurt too.”

He says buying and selling commercial cattle is a big part of his business today because the work is consistent and busy. The commercial cattle help him enjoy registered cattle. They also help underwrite his “addiction” to show cows.

Judgement day

His journey into judging evolved naturally. While he wasn’t interested, he did have strong opinions that weren’t always in line with popular thought. It is part of the reason he dons a suit more often than he’d perhaps like to.

“Somebody asked me to do a County Fair once and I said I’d do it, but it wasn’t a great experience. I thought to myself: ‘I’m never going to judge again’, but then I got asked again, and I did it and it ended up being a nice show. The biggest reason for me personally to start judging is that I got sick of narrow, high-pinned, bad-footed cows winning because they were black.

“For me, that was the biggest push. I thought somebody has got to step up and change this a bit. I think that maybe some guys who milk cows every day come to the show and they see those high-pinned, narrow cows winning and they make fun of the showing business. We’re supposed to have these high-type cattle, and to their eyes, those cattle are not functional.

“That seems to become negative publicity for the show industry. I’m not on Facebook, but I do watch the question of the week on Dairy Agenda, and I read the comments, and they’re always negative about the show industry. I want to do something to help change that for the breeders that don’t necessarily show.”

Playing favourites

Sheeknoll Durham Arrow becoming immortal at last year’s WDE when judge Pat Conroy made her Grand. She is led by her breeder/owner Jeannette Sheeham, from Sheeknoll Farms at Rochester, Minnesota, USA. Photo: The Bullvine.

That brings him to his favourite cow he has made Grand Champion to date: the 2016 WDE Grand Champion, Sheeknoll Durham Arrow. Bearing in mind, there were 2423 animals at Madison in 2016 – including 640 Holsteins (the biggest breed show) and WDE welcomed 74,000 visitors from 102 countries through its gates last year. There is always a massive audience ring-side for the Holstein judging, and the pressure resting on the sole person to award Grand should never be underestimated.

“I think because I grew up at WDE in Madison, it was the show,” Pat says. “Making that cow [Arrow] Grand was fun and a good experience. I didn’t make her Grand because she was a no-name cow before the show and I wanted to find a new Grand Champion, like some – no doubt – thought. She won it because she deserved it. It was just nice that the cow got ready on her own, she looked the part, and she was an easy fit that day.

“Madison was the easiest show to judge because you can find your kind and just go for it. At some of the other shows, you make cows Champion, that perhaps don’t excite you – but they’re the best ones there on the day. You play the cards you’re dealt.”

Heifers need width

He stays true to form on the type of show heifers that he believes will go on and make cows.

“Some people might bust my arse a bit for this, but I’ll take a heifer a little thicker, and I’m okay with that if they’re sound. The Quebec guys – and many of them are my friends – don’t like the style of cows I like. They’ll take them narrow and black.

“I’ve always liked the stronger ones, because if there ever a problem at any of the farms I’d be working at, the one that was sick and off her feed was always the narrow one. Always.

“And then I started taking care of my own heifers when I bought my first little place and I would have heifers in and that included the big black fancy ones I bought, and shouldn’t have. When I’d go to grain them and it was -60 [-15 degrees Celsius], the one standing in the corner sucking their thumb would always be the narrow one.   

“So, personally I can’t stand skinny heifers. It makes their legs look bad and they don’t have any substance. Maybe the next guy could take them skinny, but not for me. Heifers need to have muscle tone – like an athlete.”

Give it a couple of years…

Pat says patience is a virtue in the judging game.

“I always remember what they say if they’re unhappy with how I place them, and then I’ll wait a couple of years and have the conversation again. Not that I’m always right, by any means, but it’s interesting to see which of those animals last, develop and breed back,” he smiles.

The eternal question the industry has wrestled with has been the term “dairy strength”, and because it is subjective, it has proven to be an oft-confusing conversation.

“That’s another thing that pushed me into judging,” Pat says. “People have the assumption that ‘skinny’ is ‘dairy’. It’s not the case.” He says there’s a huge difference between “dairy strength” and being “half starved”.

“I think if the people making those calls had to write a cheque for one, milk them every day and calve them down, they’d learn quite a bit that way – and that includes the AI guys who don’t own or work with cattle, but who have had a role to play in starting this narrow high pins dairy, dairy, dairy crusade.”

Progress going backwards?

The impact of genomics and changing dynamics continues to be a concern when it comes to the future of shows, says Pat.

 

“I don’t want to be negative, and say there won’t be many shows in 10 to 15 years, but I’m afraid that might be the truth. I know how much it’s changed in the last 20 years, and I wonder where it will be in 20 more years.”

Pat says if he could use a time machine to choose his time to be involved in the industry, he would take the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“I’m certainly grateful for my career so far, but I almost would have loved to have been that earlier era when it was very competitive, and there was lots of investors,” Pat said.

“There were no cell phones, and no internet – it was exciting. Once in a while I grab one of my old Holstein Worlds and look through them, and it’s kinda depressing because we’re never going to have that again. It’s almost like the party’s over a little bit. I don’t know how we’ll ever get it back.”

Madison whispers

Pat confirms that this year’s lead-up to WDE in October is not rife with the usual energy and excitement that comes with cows changing hands for big money. The game has changed, and most marketers’ inventories remained available for sale when CrazyCow went to print.

“Certainly with the milk price we’ve lost a lot of good breeders and I think there’s just a bit of a negative atmosphere because of that,” Pat says. “The top-tier buyers that I would normally be selling to are disappearing. And so, the ones that are left aren’t faced with as much buying competition for animals.

“It used to be that you’d get a lot sold before the show because potential buyers knew if they looked at an animal one day and liked her, they better buy her because there’d be someone else coming to look at her the next day.   

“At Madison, I think the final-tier guys will buy there, but they don’t have to be in a hurry right now because they know that the guys like me that are selling have ultimately got to sell them – that’s our business – and there’s only limited competition, so they’re going to be patient.”

Comical source

It’s a long way from the days when Milk Source, Butlerview, Arethusa, Gene Iager, West Coast, Gerald Todd, Howard Binder Jr and Clark Woodmansee (to name a few) were all competing strongly.

By the time everyone converges on the showgrounds at Madison, Pat says animals will then be compared with others on-ground – everyone will have an opinion – and the white noise will be distracting for buyers trying to make decisions.

“I think it’ll be so cut throat this year, and there’ll be a fair bit of back stabbing. It will be quite comical, I bet,” he smiles.

“And, some of that attitude can also be attributed, I think, to people who are doing a helluva good job at shows and when others know they can’t compete with them, they are starting to say: ‘Why go?’.”

In Wisconsin, that’s getting fairly evident because Milk Source and Budjon – to cite just two – are doing great jobs and it’s expensive to show and if you don’t want to sell an animal it makes it harder to pay for it all.”

Shrinking industry heightens ‘tall poppy’

He says the shrinking industry is heightening the tall poppy syndrome and jealousy within the US registered industry.

And he doesn’t back away from it.

“Shit, I almost feed off it a little bit. It’s like a pack of wolves in a pen. If you throw enough meat in there, it’s fine. If there isn’t enough meat, it gets pretty fierce. And the dairy industry is at that same point in the US, I think. There are a lot of wolves and not a lot of meat.

“Sometimes, I think I wouldn’t care if I never went to another show again, but the truth is I’ll never quit. I get too psyched about it.

“I said I wasn’t going to buy a thing for the rest of the year, and I bought a heifer a couple of weeks ago, and I’ll buy one at Madison too. I know I will.”

For more great articles like this one check out Crazy Cow in Print  CrazyCow In Print, Australia’s favorite dairy magazine is produced by the well-known names behind Bluechip Genetics: Dean and Dianna Malcolm.

 

Be sure to check full coverage of this week’s Le Supreme Latier where Pat will be serving as the official Holstein show judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australian dairy has a precious chance to ‘get it right’

The heart of Australia’s dairy industry in Victoria is struggling through one of the toughest winters in living memory – as some milk companies continue to send farmers to the wall with undoable opening milk prices.

Mud sticks and none more so than the mud on Murray Goulburn’s reputation. As some farmers deal with a tough winter – they are also facing milk pricing challenges they never dreamed could happen. Photo: Sheila Sundborg

Mud sticks and none more so than the mud on Murray Goulburn’s reputation. As some farmers deal with a tough winter – they are also facing milk pricing challenges they never dreamed could happen. Photo: Sheila Sundborg

Farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn historically led the industry on pricing, processing more than one-third of Australia’s 9.6 billion milk pool. But the rhetoric has been hot and heavy since the news broke that the co-op would struggle to meet half of its net profit forecast that was outlined in the prospectus for its partial float on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) less than a year ago.

The feedback from other processors is damning – when it comes to the management strategies MG used and has tried to justify.

To recap

MG’s Managing Director, Gary Helou — who was MG’s highest paid CEO in history — resigned April 27, after he massively overestimated sales figures, plunging the company’s 2400 suppliers into a financial tub of iced water.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Fonterra then announced the price it paid its farmer-suppliers would immediately drop from between $6 and $5.60 for every kilogram of milk solids to just $4.75-$5/kg — equivalent to as little as 35c a litre of milk.

And it got worse

Not only would prices be slashed immediately, but they would be backdated or imposed retrospectively to the beginning of the 2015-16 financial year or milk season.

This meant that every litre of milk sold to MG and Fonterra during the past 10 months — for which farmers have already been paid — they are now paying back.

MG and Fonterra have offered low-interest loans, repayable after three years.

Or, the debt can be erased if suppliers accepted 14c a litre for their milk for the two months until July.

Some farmers could see no way out, and sent whole herds to slaughter. Suicides have become an overwhelming concern for the industry.

And opening milk prices (stripping away the confusing layers of smoke and mirrors) from July have been cold comfort – MG at best is $4.45/kgMS or 34c/litre and Fonterra has announced at $4.75/kgMS or 36.5c/litre. Australia’s cost of production is closer to 45c/litre. And one of the MG directors also named in the lawsuits that have followed MG’s fall from grace – Philip Tracy – remains as MG’s current leader.

Where to now

Increasingly, it appears the only way for Murray Goulburn (MG) to pave the road to recovery is to appoint an honest and approachable Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who understands the dairy industry and appreciates its co-operative culture.

Farmer lobby group Farmer Power rose up and has called MG on everything, asking for a 50c levy to be imposed on milk sales. Meanwhile, industry appointed industry watch-dogs (supported by farmer levies) have struggled to find their teeth.

Urban ally

Presenter Waleed Aly from Melbourne television show “The Project” (the 2016 Gold Logie winner) arguably did more for the industry in one newscast than many have ever been able to do. The result? The consumer listened. And sympathised. And bought branded milk. It proved one thing: the urban audience values Australian farmers.

Supported by intelligent and dogged journalism across mainstream media, MG — in particular – had few places left to hide.

Joe Aston, of the Australian Financial Review newspaper, called MG out for allowing Philip Tracy to take MG’s helm, given he was part of the initial board.

“Hasn’t Murray Goulburn’s Philip Tracy picked up right where ousted chief executive Gary Helou left off?” he wrote. “The dairy Chairman had an opinion piece in Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Thursday, which we’re seriously considering framing – so memorable it is for a scarcity of logic.

“Remember that on his watch, Murray Goulburn loaded the balance sheet with debt to lock in a decade of volume growth at paltry margins, failed to penetrate with its relaunched Devondale brand, and repeatedly fell short of profit forecasts, all while unrealistically promising its farmers $6 per kilo for milk solids, then retrospectively yanking it back to $4.75 and diluting 38 per cent of their equity to outside interests.

“Yet now Tracy sheets the blame to falling global dairy commodity prices and the fact that ‘Australia produces 35% more milk than it can possibly consume’.”

Trouser-deal stink

The journo also disagreed with Philip Tracy’s argument that MG’s 10-year contract to supply Coles with private-label milk was a “very good deal for our farmers”.

“Sorry, but the Coles deal is a stinker for Tracy’s farmers. The contract includes a rise-and-fall provision so Coles trousers the greater margin when commodity prices are lower. And if, as Tracy claims, Coles is paying MG a premium above the farm-gate price (and who knows which price he’s talking about – the real price or the one he recently foisted on his suppliers), then why aren’t the farmers seeing any of it flow back to them? Oh and that ‘much-needed investment’ he’s talking about are the factories (built with bank debt) that pump out more milk than anyone can drink, thus creating the oversupply he was earlier blaming for MG’s woes. Go figure.”

No one had to go far to find the bad guys in this story – it lands at MG’s door, and to a lesser degree, Fonterra’s.

It led to May 16, when class action specialist lawyer Mark Elliott launched legal proceedings on behalf of unit-holders in MG, alleging the dairy company and its board misled investors in a product disclosure statement (PDS) issued last May. (Mark Elliot is a former partner of Minter Ellison, but in the past couple of years alone, the now-sole solicitor has launched several shareholder class actions, including against Banksia Securities, Leighton Holdings, Treasury Wine Estates, Downer EDI and WorleyParsons.)

In a statement of claim filed with the Victorian Supreme Court, Mark Elliott alleged MG knew sales forecasts in the PDS were “unlikely to be achieved” on the very day it filed the fundraising document, May 29.

Enter the watchdogs

The action comes on top of investigations by corporate regulator the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Mark Elliott, who is acting for lead plaintiff John Webster (as trustee of Elcar Pty Ltd Super Trust Fund) in the class action, alleges every member of the Board at the time — including chairman Philip Tracy and then-CEO Gary Helou — are liable to pay compensation because they “each consented to the inclusion of the misleading PDS representations”.

Mark claims MG breached the Corporations Act by failing to disclose any problems when it listed on July 3, 2015, even re-affirming its forecasts as late as October 26, at its annual general meeting.

MG units plunged on February 26 this year when the company initially downgraded its profit forecast, and again on April 27 when it released a second downgrade.

The Directors who were named in the lawsuit are: Philip Tracy, Gary Helou, Kenneth Jones, Natalie Akers, William Bodman, Peter Hawkins, Michael Ihlen, Edwin Morris, Graham Munzel, John Pye and Martin Van De Wouw.

Damning words of fairness

One of the most damning commentaries came from Bega Cheese’s CEO Barry Irvin later in the proceedings. He resisted saying anything publically for a month, but in the end it became too much for him.

“It’s an emotional thing for me,” Barry said. “Trust is built by your actions, it’s not built by rhetoric. It’s built by actually doing things and understanding the impact of those things on the people that do indeed trust you.

“We’re a very polite industry, the dairy industry. We don’t name people and I actually think the trust is also cultural, and I think if we don’t be public and we don’t address this [MG’s price cuts] in a very direct way, we will see this happen again, and again and again.”

“When MG cut the price — and I want to be fair here — no one was mentioning Fonterra because they were openly saying the price was too high. Not only do they [MG] cut the price, they elect to hold a profit, and that doesn’t feel fair to me. And it doesn’t feel like it builds trust.”

Collective ‘fluff’

“The actual price for May and June is almost impossible to work out because it’s hidden by something that is called a ‘milk supply support programme’. It sounds like a collective loan to me.

“If you give somebody money, and you ask for it back with interest, to me that’s a loan, and that’s what it should be called. And the speaking should be plain.

“Why did we [Bega Cheese] not drop our price? Because it was the wrong thing to do. Bega had to hold its price because that’s the commitment we made. Whether it’s legal or whether it’s moral I don’t actually mind. It’s a moral commitment so I’ll hold and I’ll take the pain and I’ll build trust over a long period of time — by my actions, not by my words, and not by my rhetoric.

“And so for me, this is about actions, demonstrating that you’ve thought very deeply about the lives you affect. I had a 26-year MG supplier who burst into tears while she was begging me to take her milk. That’s not what we should have in this industry. We have a long way to go to build trust back.

Unfair impact

“Sadly, for me I’ve spent my life trying to build trust and I am actually impacted by this. Because suspicion doesn’t stop at a particular company — the damage to the industry goes across the industry.”

Gippsland-based Burra Foods has also been open about its position, with its CEO Grant Crothers not mincing words.

Its website says: “We all know we are in a volatile and cyclical industry, but the selfish disregard that MG has shown to its supply base is culpable (which may well be confirmed by ASIC, ACCC and/or a Class Action).

“The cycle is against us, as has been the case for some time now. Fonterra NZ was honest about the outlook some 12 months ago, enabling the NZ industry to prepare as best as possible for the cyclical low, whereas our ‘industry leader’ decided their new business model could withstand the downward pressure.”

Less honesty, more fallout

“At Burra we were extremely suspicious and gave as many indications as possible that a $6 or even $5.60 milk price was unsustainable. In the end, MG could not defy gravity any longer and the fallout is significantly worse than if they had been more honest with themselves and their stakeholders at a similar time as Fonterra NZ.

“Personally, I am ashamed to be grouped as a processor with MG and recently refused the opportunity to sit on a panel with [Philip] Tracy as I don’t want to be grouped as a processor with the current MG Board and senior management. I have more invested in the industry than most, have been adding more value to it than most for an extended period of time, and I value transparency and communicating the best information possible to stakeholders — our values refer to it as respect.”

Hubris contained at MG

Grant Crothers went on to say that dairy is viable going forward.

“This speed bump is a steep one, made worse by management hubris at the largest processor. Thankfully there is competition in our industry and that some organisations have a stronger set of values than MG, the financial hybrid that continues to refer it itself as a Co-Operative.”

The in-house commentary appears to overwhelmingly support a clean slate for MG with fresh legs, fresh ideas, more transparency and less jargon-loaded press releases.

Co-ops have a place

Paul Kerr, CEO and Executive Director of Australian Dairy Farmers Corporation (ADFC), says he still believes in the co-operative model, and that MG should be the leading co-operative in Australia.

Paul spent 27 years at MG, including 11 as its COO. He is a current member of accounting body CPA Australia, and the Governance Institute of Australia.

He says that dairy-farming nations in the western world are dominated by co-operatives and without that model, farmers have “no chance” of a fair price.

“People will say they are only taking the market price in a co-operative. But they are also having a say in the costs up the chain, and what markets they’re going into – not just getting what someone wants to pay them,” Paul says.

Processors must collaborate

Paul also believes the future of the dairy industry lies in the 250-500-cow family farm.

“Because it is the family farm that can manage the market volatility, and it has the heart to manage its cost structure and it can weather the storms. There’s nothing like a family farm. We should be trying to create a lifestyle. That’s what we’ve got to get back in to in the industry. It’s a people game, and farming is about farmers being profitable. It’s not about big corporations and robots.”

He hopes for more collaboration between processors moving forward in a way never before achieved.

“We need this industry to be attractive to our younger people. We have got to make sure farms are profitable. And as milk processors, we should also be collaborating with other companies to take the costs out of the supply chain.”

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Check out more great articles like this in the latest edition of Crazy Cow In Print

Anger will die down…

He said farmer apathy would help no one.

“Dairy farmers are angry today. They’ll be a little less angry tomorrow. It’ll die down. It’ll rain, the grass will grow, the cows will start calving and all of a sudden it’s the peak of the season. You get tied up in your own world. It’s human nature.

“If I’m really positive about all of this, I see it as farmers having a great opportunity right now to move forward in a positive way.”

BREXIT – The Beginning of the End Of The EU?

Bruce Jobson

Bruce Jobson

The whys and wherefores of the UK’s EU referendum

At the end of June, the UK voted on whether or not to stay in the European Union (EU).  CrazyCow’s Dianna Malcolm asked British dairy specialist Bruce Jobson — and CrazyCow’s own Europe correspondent — to explain the reasons for the referendum.

DM “How did the UK’s referendum on the EU come about?”

BJ “Many British people have had longterm concerns with regard to continued EU membership. During the 2015 general election, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that if his ruling Conservative Government was re-elected for a second term, he would hold a referendum — albeit after he had negotiated terms for a reformed agreement with the EU.

The negotiations took place earlier this year and Mr Cameron has recommended that the British electorate vote in favour of remaining in a ‘reformed’ EU.

“However, there is still uncertainty as to whether the EU will fully ratify the negotiations, and many opponents consider the reformed negotiations as ‘worthless’. Hence the campaign to leave — or ‘Brexit’, which is an abbreviation for ‘British exit’.”

LAWS FROM BELGIUM

DM “Why has this all happened?”

BJ “In 1951, the concept of a free-trade zone and better economic integration was discussed, and, in March 1957, a six-country alliance of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany was established [by signing the “Treaty of Rome”] known as the Common Market. The creation was a rebuilding process in a pretty much bankrupt Europe, resulting in mutual benefits as well as having the aim of preventing any future wars between member states. In 1961, the UK applied to join this exclusive club but the application was rejected by France, fearing US back-door influence, but eventually, the UK joined in 1973, following a ratifying referendum.

“The economies of these northern European countries was similar and the club became a huge success with the Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP, being the most successful policy implementation. Since then, the Common Market has changed from an economic alliance to a more political alliance, resulting in an extended 28-member ‘federal state’ of 500 million, changing the name along the way to the ‘European Community’ to the present, ‘European Union’, or EU. Turkey, with a population of approximately 80 million, is the latest country aiming to become a full member. “Large sections of the British public now consider the ‘new’, extended EU is not the organisation that the country voted to join in 1973. British sovereignty and border control has been eroded, and 60% of all laws applicable to British subjects are created and passed by the EU Parliament in Brussels, which is also the capital of Belgium. Many of the laws are created by faceless and unelected EU bureaucrats, and the UK has little power to influence or change laws that are seen as benefitting other 27 member states and economies.”

CAN’T PROMOTE OWN MILK

DM “Surely, the UK will be better-off by remaining in the EU?”

BJ “That’s the £55 million question [A$109.3m]. The UK pays £55 million every day — or £350m [A$695.5m] per week — as its contribution to being an EU member. The UK receives approximately 60% back as a rebate. The UK does not have any control over how and where the rebate money is spent. This is decided by the EU.

“However, it is the rules and regulation that are seen as restricting our industries. For example, AHDB Dairy is funded by a producer levy on all British dairy farmers — yet the organisation is not allowed to promote British milk. [AHDB Dairy is a subsidiary of AHDB, or the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.]. EU rules prevent AHDB Dairy from promoting its own members’ produce as this is seen as unfair competition against other EU member states.

“The same applied recently to the steel industry, which has been going through a severe downturn in the UK and globally. The UK Government was powerless to step in to support or ‘nationalise’ the steel industry, and two massive steel plants were closed with the loss of thousands of jobs.

“There are tens of thousands of these laws governing our countryside, including the distance that houses are built from heathland [five kilometres] to prevent cats from chasing birds. The EU is viewed by many as being out-dated — and now built to keep power with the EU elites, and not the people.

“The regulations imposed on agriculture are staggering, although it has to be stated that some rules are beneficial, while others are considered to be downright ridiculous. EU farm payments are a concern, as many farmers view the subsidies as a ‘necessary evil’, but the ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy involved is immense, and can only be undertaken by paying professional land agents to complete the necessary paperwork.”

PEOPLE STRAIN

DM “How much does immigration play on the fear-factor of the British public?”

BJ “Immigration is becoming a huge part of the Brexit campaign. Under the Treaty of Rome, free movement is allowed between member states – and that remains a fundamental part of EU membership. The UK is the second-largest economy in Europe, behind Germany, and the sixth largest in the world. People from the other 27 EU countries are free to move to Britain to work under the Treaty of Rome.

“There are two issues here. First: legal immigration; and secondly: illegal immigration. Last year, in the 12 months ending September 2015, more than 530,000 migrants entered the UK — including 256,000 from the EU. Over the same 12-month period, 630,000 migrants received National Insurance registration numbers so they could work, and subsequently receive UK benefits – such as housing, health, social welfare payments, and so on. Net migration into the UK has been regularly running high — last year was 330,000 — for several years.

“The sheer volume of numbers is placing incredible strain on housing, education and the National Health Service, which is a free service. The UK cannot build enough houses, enough schools or enough hospitals to cope with the increases. In London schools, an estimated 60 languages are spoken and education services have to provide interpreters. It is estimated that due to immigration increases, the UK has to build a new house every seven minutes.

“The National Health Service is reported at breaking-point, and in some areas estimates state there are not enough local family doctors, and hospitals are unable to provide the required service owing to spiralling costs. The UK could build a new hospital every week if it did not have to contribute £55m each day to the EU!

“The ongoing EU migrant crisis is a huge concern, with over 1.83 million people illegally entering the EU last year — six times more than the previous year. More than 1.1 million migrants were welcomed by Germany alone last year; additionally, Germany is expecting 2.5 million migrants to arrive in the next five years.

“EU border checkpoints have been over-run, and concerns over terrorist infiltration is immense. Once registered, all will be entitled to an EU passport, and can therefore gain entry to the UK as part of the EU’s free movement of people policy under the Treaty of Rome. On that basis, there is nothing to stop 500,000 or one million people legally entering the UK on an annual basis.”

BREXIT TO BREAK EU?

DM “Will the EU be weakened if Brexit occurs?”

BJ “This is just my personal opinion: yes, I believe the EU will be weakened if the UK leaves. I consider the migrant crisis allied to a Brexit may, and I repeat, may, lead to the collapse of the EU in its present form. There is also the financial concern over the euro currency and Euro-zone. Britain maintained the pound sterling, as is not part of the failing currency union. The euro is in deep trouble and there may be another financial crisis similar to 2008.

“Financially, the euro currency is a potential future disaster area, with countries such as Spain having 55% unemployment in its population who are aged under 25.

“The Brexit campaigners want to be free of undemocratic EU centralist policy, passed by laws in Brussels, and pursue global markets in other countries such as Australia, Canada, China and USA and so one. Trade tariffs will have to be negotiated with these countries as well as within the EU, should the UK leave.

“It may seem confusing to Australians, where a points system determines immigration policy and effectively who can and cannot live and work in Australia. The old Common Market was originally similar to the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP — but with the free movement of people. [TPP members are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.]

“It’s not hard to imagine how Australians and Canadians would feel if 60% of their laws were made by unelected bureaucrats in a 12-country TPP parliament residing in another country? Or if the free movement was considered of millions of people to live and work in the USA from Mexico, Peru, Vietnam or Singapore?

“The USA would not allow 11 other countries to make 60% of its laws and overrule its democratically elected administration. Would Australia or the US open its border controls and allow unrestricted freedom of movement from the other 11 TPP countries without the need to produce a passport?

“One final point on security: the EU makes a strong play on the fact there have not been any wars — and is eager to bask in the acclaim. Since 1945, the security of Europe has been the responsibility of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, of which Britain is a member. But in fairness, the United States has backed and guaranteed the security and freedom of Europe for the past 70 years, and this has been underpinned by the US dollar.”

Check out more great articles like this in the latest edition of Crazy Cow In PrintCCIP51_June16_Cvr (002)

Friends of Recently Deceased Australian Dairyman Show His Favourite Cow to Victory at the IDW Brown Swiss Show

This year’s Brown Swiss show at International Dairy Week was not only about the cows.

In an oppressively hot day where temperatures peaked at 42 degrees there was also the weight of the knowledge that 30-year-old breeder Jeremy Josefski was not there.

Jeremy was tragically killed in a car accident in October on the final leg of his family’s shift to Victoria.

Jeremy Josefski’s family surround the Intermediate and Reserve Intermediate which was exhibited by Tandara Brown Swiss. Photo: Fleur Ferguson.

Jeremy Josefski’s family surround the Intermediate and Reserve Intermediate which was exhibited by Tandara Brown Swiss. Photo: Fleur Ferguson.

His wife, Leah, daughters Keeva and Cree and Jeremy’s family were at the show to watch friends and colleagues finish off and show Jeremy’s four-year-old Dryfesdale Fantastic Four. She would win her class, Best Udder of class and Honourable Mention Champion Brown Swiss in an emotional result.

Ben Govett with his 2016 Grand Champion Brown Swiss, Tandara Dynasty Fortuna 2.

Ben Govett with his 2016 Grand Champion Brown Swiss, Tandara Dynasty Fortuna 2.

Fantastic Four was the former Junior Champion at the Brisbane Royal under US judge Allen Bassler (Old Mill Brown Swiss) in 2012. Leah also spoke when the Intermediate Champion was presented in memory of Jeremy – to Tandara Brown Swiss. It was a moment few will forget.

Everyone knows how much Ben Govett loves his cows.

Everyone knows how much Ben Govett loves his cows.

Outside of the many memories of Jeremy that surrounded the show ground, the day belonged to Tandara Brown Swiss. Ben Govett brought a team of 10-head. He would go on and win seven classes, Reserve Junior and Honourable Mention Junior Champion, Intermediate and Reserve Intermediate, Senior and Reserve Senior Champion, Best Udder and Grand Champion with Tandara Dynasty Fortuna 2. No-one was surprised when the Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor banner was handed Tandara’s way too.

Fortuna 2 is six years old with four calves. Judge Paul Trapp from the US (who judged the first Brown Swiss show at IDW when the show ) summed up his thoughts.

“She’s got that dairy strength I’m looking for,” judge Trapp said. “She’s got that width and capacity. She was Best Udder and she represents the Brown Swiss breed really well. We breed for longevity, outstanding feet and legs and beautiful mammary systems – and that’s what this cow has.”

As always, a strong team lies behind the popular Tandara team.

As always, a strong team lies behind the popular Tandara team.

IDW show owner Brian Leslie summed up the Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor achievement: “Tandara have certainly won both banners – as they have many times,” he said. “You are great promoters of the Swiss breed. We thank you, Ben, and your family for the effort you put in. Congratulations.”

Ben said Fortuna 2 was a former Reserve Junior Champion at IDW. Yesterday was her first Grand title. She calved in September and she had just been crowned the Victorian On-Farm Competition Champion before IDW. Her dam has also held the IDW Grand title.

“I’m pretty happy with how the day went. Couldn’t have gone better – to win every class we were out in,” Ben said.

Wintergreen Brace Weave.

Wintergreen Brace Weave.

In the Guernsey show there was no getting around Wintergreen Brace Weave, owned by the Joyce family, of Kyabram. Weave won the five-year-old class (with three calves) under judge Murray Sowter, of Murribrook Holsteins in NSW.

Wintergreen Brace Weave (left) joins First Love McKenzie (1st six years) owned by the Shea family and 1st four years, Lawarra Aaron Bracelet (owned by the Joyce family). Photo: Fleur Ferguson.

Wintergreen Brace Weave (left) joins First Love McKenzie (1st six years) owned by the Shea family and 1st four years, Lawarra Aaron Bracelet (owned by the Joyce family). Photo: Fleur Ferguson.

The story becomes more interesting because some of her owners are also involved in the fairy tale story of Florando SD Koala 7th – who is the only cow of any breed to win International Dairy Week (IDW) four times in a row, the only Guernsey in Australia to achieve an EX94 classification and the first cow in the world to be crowned the Guernsey Global Golden Cow of the Year.

The best moment for any exhibitor.

The best moment for any exhibitor.

Steve (and Renee) and Gary (and Nola) Joyce, who were better known in the Holstein breed until Koala, were back in the limelight with another outstanding exhibit that could not be caught.

They bought Weave in a private sale out of the South Australian herd, owned by the Butler family.

“Steve has a passion for cows of any breed,” Renee Joyce said. “And he wants to help get the Guernseys out there to be as good as the Holsteins.”

Weave calved in September 2015 and they plan to calve her down and return next year to defend her title.

Low Milk Prices and High Water Costs Cause Strain on IDW Illawarra Show

An overriding factor came charging to the top on the first day of the breed shows at International Dairy Week (IDW) in Australia.

The toll tough milk prices and high water costs had taken on many was evident in the strain across the faces of competitors no matter the breed or the colour of the ribbons they won.

Once again, Australia’s biggest dairy show was a bright light on many registered breeders’ calendars. And the big guns came out when the results started to unfold in the Illawarra and Ayrshire breeds first up.

Llandovery Ja-Bob Stella, won the aged cow class, Best Udder, Senior and Grand Champion.

Llandovery Ja-Bob Stella, won the aged cow class, Best Udder, Senior and Grand Champion.

The Illawarra show had one subject line – Llandovery Illawarras. Owned by Tony and Elle Hayes, the family effort is put together by sisters Zoe and Taya Hayes. Today they won Junior Champion, Intermediate Champion, Grand Champion, Best Udder, Premier Breeder and Premier Exhibitor and they bred the Premier Sire, Llandovery Jinnys Empire.

The Champion contenders (l-r) were 1st four-year-old Llandovery JR Joan 982 (C Rapley and RK and JR Gordon), 2nd four-year-old Riversleigh Scarlet Dorris 2 (Tuhan family trust), 1st five-year-old Braelee BP Dairymaid 2-Twin (Glenbrook Illawarras) and 1st aged cow Llandovery Ja-Bob Stella.

The Champion contenders (l-r) were 1st four-year-old Llandovery JR Joan 982 (C Rapley and RK and JR Gordon), 2nd four-year-old Riversleigh Scarlet Dorris 2 (Tuhan family trust), 1st five-year-old Braelee BP Dairymaid 2-Twin (Glenbrook Illawarras) and 1st aged cow Llandovery Ja-Bob Stella.

“We didn’t expect to get all three Champions. We’re just overwhelmed,” Tony said. “It’s fantastic. I hought we had a good chance for Champion, but to win all three is a first for the breed, so pretty special, I guess.”

 

Intermediate Illawarra (right) was Llandovery Blushes Queenette (owned by the Hayes family) and Reserve was Riversleigh Zeus Stella 20 (owned by the Tuhan family).

Intermediate Illawarra (right) was Llandovery Blushes Queenette (owned by the Hayes family) and Reserve was Riversleigh Zeus Stella 20 (owned by the Tuhan family).

The family is milking 530 cows on 800 acres three times a day. Tony confirmed the pressure of recent expansions and the challenging milk and water prices had contributed to a forgettable season.

 

Llandovery LB Betty (right) started the day off for the Hayes family when she won Junior Champion. Reserve was Glenbrook Poppy 6 (Glenbrook Illawarras).

Llandovery LB Betty (right) started the day off for the Hayes family when she won Junior Champion. Reserve was Glenbrook Poppy 6 (Glenbrook Illawarras).

The show was competitive throughout and from the four-year-old, judge Ryan Weigel, from the United States, had plenty of worthy options.

For me the dark red cow. I just love her from head to toe. She spells milk. I just love her Love the mammary system. The Reserve Champion is just a little bit different kind of cow. She’s maybe not as big as the other cows, but they don’t have to be big, they have to be good. And in my opinion…she’s pretty darn good.

The Hayes family left no stone unturned creating breed history when they won Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion, Premier Sire and Premier Breeder and Exhibitor.

The Hayes family left no stone unturned creating breed history when they won Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Grand Champion, Premier Sire and Premier Breeder and Exhibitor.

There’s a lot of things to love about her – her uphill run, her style and balance and there is just a little more quality in her mammary over our Honourable Mention. Not taking anything away from this Honourable Mention cow – she’s quite the cow in her own right.”

The Ayrshire show was all about Cheryl Liebich (Cher-Bar) and Boldview Ayrshires, who are run at the same farm by a family effort that travelled eight hours from Jervois in South Australia to compete. With a tough season and some personal challenges within the family, deciding to come was in the air until the last minute. But when they decide to do something, there is no going back.

 

Cher-Bar Rippa Lasselle on the way to the Champion she owned today. She is owned by Cheryl Liebich, Jervois in South Australia.

Cher-Bar Rippa Lasselle on the way to the Champion she owned today. She is owned by Cheryl Liebich, Jervois in South Australia.

Their lead exhibit was Adelaide’s multiple and reigning Grand Champion for her breed, Cher-Bar Rippa Lasselle. Boldview and Cher-Bar have won Grand Champion Ayrshire at Adelaide for eight successive years with just two cows – Lasselle (2012-2015) and Cher-Bar MP Incarnate (2008-2011).

And now, their six-year-old EX92 entry, Lasselle, is the IDW Grand Champion after calving in June.

 

The aged cow class of Ayrshires made an impressive display

The aged cow class of Ayrshires made an impressive display

“We didn’t know if we were asking too much of her,” Cheryl said. “But she pulled it out in the end and it was just a huge relief and a much needed boost for us all.”

The aged cow class had the attention of the audience.

The aged cow class had the attention of the audience.

Boldview Ayrshires picked up Premier Breeder and Exhibitor. Hayley Braendler picked up the award.

Boldview Ayrshires picked up Premier Breeder and Exhibitor. Hayley Braendler picked up the award.

Junior Champion (right) Regal Park Reality Solax (owned by Stew and Beck Cole of Wagga, NSW), centre is the Reserve Junior, Boldview Dream-A-Rilla (owned by Boldview Farms of Jervois, SA) and Honourable Mention (left) is Paschendaele Vicki Titan (owned by the Eagles Partnership of Gooloogong, NSW).

Junior Champion (right) Regal Park Reality Solax (owned by Stew and Beck Cole of Wagga, NSW), centre is the Reserve Junior, Boldview Dream-A-Rilla (owned by Boldview Farms of Jervois, SA) and Honourable Mention (left) is Paschendaele Vicki Titan (owned by the Eagles Partnership of Gooloogong, NSW).

Young Red and White Holstein takes out IDW Youth Show

Two young people with multiple runs on the board – that credit International Dairy Week’s (IDW) youth show for helping shape their careers – were charged with making the decisions on the first day of action at the Tatura Show Grounds, two hours north of Melbourne, Australia.

All breeds were celebrated in the Youth Show.

All breeds were celebrated in the Youth Show.

Brad Gavenlock judging the Youth Show

Brad Gavenlock judging the Youth Show

Brad Gavenlock recently re-located back to Australia after nine months living and farming in Central Wisconsin.

 

Hayley Menzies is an integral part of the 600-strong Cairnsdale Holsteins and Rivendell Jersey herd at Nowra (NSW). Notably, she is also the daughter of Lyn and Maurice Boyd – of Brunchilli Jersey fame – who have won Premier Breeder in the Jersey show at IDW for the last 13 years.

Both spoke about their youth experience before placing this year’s champions at the show that welcomes many international visitors – including a strong North American contingent.

 

“I’ve been fortunate to show a few heifers out here, but at the end of the day we’re a small industry, we’re a tight industry, and I think we all need to respect every breed for what they are because every breed has its place,” Brad said.

“To see these heifers who are representing their breeds today is quite a compliment to the junior show at IDW.”

He said the experience was priceless.

Ella Young was on the same page as her lead, Calthorpe Vanahlem Cream.

Ella Young was on the same page as her lead, Calthorpe Vanahlem Cream.

“It was that and beyond,” Brad said. “IDW has grown immensely and the youth show is as strong as the open show in some respects. I give credit to all those that support it so early in the week. The day I got the email asking about judging IDW, it made a time during a pretty miserable winter (in North America) pretty good. The youth show has also given young people like myself and Hayley a chance to judge in front of international visitors. You never know where that will lead.”

“That’s why we came back to Australia. We missed IDW and we missed showing with our close family and friends. It’s great to be home and it’s great to be settled.”

BV_SeniorChamp_JuniorLeader copy

And it was Sun Vale Holsteins who dominated, winning Junior Champion (senior handler), Honourable Mention Junior Champion (junior handler), and Senior Champion (junior leader). It would take them through to the ultimate title – Grand Champion of the Youth Show with a young Red and White Holstein entry.

BV_IDW_JC_SeniorLeader

“We were hoping to make the top five,” Katie Anderson, of Sun Vale said. “We’re pumped with the day. We never expected it.”

Brad said he couldn’t go past Sun Vale Redliner Wonka-Red. Wonka is a Fradon Redliner from a Reality. Born March 2013, she freshened in October. Katie said her parents bought Wonka’s Advent granddam from Travis and Melissa Deans (Leader Holsteins). They bred the Advent to Reality and it was the Reality that had formed the backbone of the family at Sun Vale. Brad first made her Champion of the in-milk show for the Junior Leaders before taking her all the way.

Sun Vale’s triumphant display.

Sun Vale’s triumphant display.

“She was so well balanced and she showed me the depth of fore and rear rib and more dairyness right through than the Reserve,” Brad said.

He made it clear early on he was looking for balance.

“If you’re going to get sick of listening to me saying ‘balance’, well, it’s probably a good time to leave because I’m going to keep saying it all day long,” Brad said.

“If they’re not balanced, then I’m probably not going to win with them.”

Avonlea Selector Figsie was Honourable Mention

Avonlea Selector Figsie was Honourable Mention

While Brad was impressed by his two young in-milk Champions, a young heifer that gave away three months in her 2015-born class was right up in there with her 14-year-old handler, Ashleigh Van Leeuwen. Avonlea Selector Figsie, sired by a homebred Windbrook son, and owned by the Gardiner family, of Avonlea Holsteins, slid into Honourable Mention Grand beside two in-milk entries.

Elmar Zelgardis Jessica 3 (Brady Hore) was Senior Champion (senior leader) and Mikandan Vanahlems Caramel 2275 (Olivia Hendebo) was Reserve Senior Champion (senior leader)
Elmar Zelgardis Jessica 3 (Brady Hore) was Senior Champion (senior leader) and Mikandan Vanahlems Caramel 2275 (Olivia Hendebo) was Reserve Senior Champion (senior leader)

“For me, that heifer gets me excited,” Brad said. “And for all the ones that think I’m crazy placing her there – when she wins next year – I’ll be the first one to tell you,” Brad said.

John Gardiner said that they were really good friends with Ashleigh’s family and she had asked to take a calf.

“We got one for her last year and she got second and we said we’d try and find one for her this year again,” John said. “We really just wanted to give Ashleigh the chance, even though we liked the calf, but we never expected to do anything like that. Ashleigh did a really nice job on her.”

In the showmanship classes, judge Hayley Menzies was taken back to the first year she competed in the youth show in 1999.

“I went in the paraders classes every year until I won,” Hayley said. “It was a real buzz to be out here today. I guess I’m a picky handler myself, and I’m very hard on myself, so I knew what I was looking for.”

She had a big job in a ring that was quickly heating up at the end of the afternoon. There were 43 handlers in the biggest class of the day – the Junior Handlers.

“As a whole, there was class where I asked every competitor when their animals had been born and everyone told me. Back when I started, hardly anyone would have known that. There is definite progression and to have more than 40 in a class was amazing,” Hayley said.

“Overall, it was wonderful to see so many young people out there today having a go.”

Complete Show Results

Grand Champion Heifer: Sun Vale Redliner Wonka-Red, Leader – Renee Anderson

Reserve Champion Heifer – Elmar Zelgardis Jessica 3, Leader – Brady Hore

Honourable Mention – Avonlea Selector Figsie, Leader – Ashleigh Van Leeuwen

Senior Reserve Champion in Milk Heifer – Junior Leader, Cobrico Shuttle Susette. Leader – Jake Scott

Honourable Mention Carisma Cairnhill Presence-1-ET. Leader – Zali Deenen,

Junior Leader, Sun Vale Redliner Wonka-Red, Leader – Renee Anderson

 Senior Reserve Champion in Milk Heifer – Senior Leader, Strongbark Sid Georgette. Leader – Erika Quinn

Honourable Mention – Wallacedale Topeka Melanie. Leader – Scott Lockeridge

Senior Champion in Milk Heifer – Senior Leader Elmar Zelgardis Jessica 3. Leader Brady Hore

Junior Champion Heifer – Junior Leader, Avonlea Selector Figsie, Leader Ashleigh Van Leeuwen

Reserve Junior Champion Heifer – Junior Leader Avonlea Sanchez Alarna-IMP-ET, Leader – Luke Gardiner

Honourable Mention, Sun Vale Ninja Lady, Leader Renee Anderson

Junior Champion Heifer – Senior Leader, Sun Vale Spectrum Renita – Leader Katie Anderson

Reserve Junior Champion Heifer – Senior Leader, Runway Veronicas Cupid, Leader – Thomas Wade

Honourable Mention  Lightning Ridge Armani Licorice-RED. Leader Sarah Dodd

Class 01 Heifer born 01/07/15 – 31/12/15 – Senior Leader
1. Lightening Ridge Armani Licorice – Sarah Dodd
2. Shirlinn Romney Queen – Jaclyn Lindsay
3. Enterprise Burette Gaiety 4533 – Hayley Maddern
4. Gorbro Atwood D Kassie – Corey Macgillivray
5. Billabong Attorney Dingles – Courtney Afford
Class 02 Heifer born 01/07/15 to 31/12/15 Junior Leader
1. Burn- Brae Baltimor – Isabella Mackie
2. Miami Tequila Girlie 5115 – ET – Abbie Hanks
3. Burn- Brae Max Maize – Scott Mackie
4. Eclipsepierce LR Class Cale IMP-ET – Anna Dickson
Class 03 Heifer born 01/04/15 to 30/06/15 Senior Leader
1. Sun Vale Armani Rommy – Katie Anderson
2. Juggling Babs 7262 – Matt Gregory
3. Riversleigh Pingerly Dorris 4 – Rachael Barnes
4. Kelenmare Liquid Gold Evelina – Rebecca Daley
5. Gorbro Atchez Shimmer – Caleb Quinn
Class 04 Heifer born 01/04/15 to 30/06/15 Junior Leader 
1. Avonlea Sanchez Alarna-IMP-ET – Luke Gardiner
2. Carisma Dreamy paradise 1-ET – Mia Deenen
3. Hillview Park Kaliber Victoria – Tahlia Railton
4. Foleama Lix Rose II – Charlie Lloyd
5. Lloydstar Flawless Vanilla – Sarah Lloyd
Class 05 Heifer born 01/01/15 to 31/03/15 Senior Leader
1. Runway Veronicas Cupid-ET – Thomas Wade
2. Burnside Gun Honey – Olivia Handebo
3. Llandovery LB Betty – Zoe Hayes
4. Southern Star Shadow Pam – Sophia Wright
5. Elmar Guthrie Farley 2 – Brady More
Class 06 Heifer born 01/01/15 to 31/03/15 Junior Leader
1. Avonlea Selector Figsie – Ashleigh Van Leeuwen
2. Sun Vale Ninja Lady – Renee Anderson
3. Woodlawn McCutchen Delight 5657 – Josh Blake
4. Cleveland Dashdawn Butter – Mikaela Daniel
5. Ghinni Creek Hariette – Jess Eagles
Class 7 Heifer born 01/07/14 to 31/12/14 Senior Leader 
1. Glenbrook Poppy 6 – Joanna Owers
2. Ripponlea Davids Duchess 2872 – Alana Schulz
3. Diamond Hill Maddison Bambi Star 2 – Cameron Lindsay
4. Quality Ridge Windbreak Bonnie 3-ET – Sarah Dodd
5. Gorbro Goldendreams Shimmer – Erika Quinn
Class 8 Heifer born 01/07/14 to 31/12/14 Junior Leader 
1. Brunchilli Excitation Belle – Billy Michael
2. Langdale Verbatim Martha – Brianna Weaver
3. Brindabella Goldchip Natalie – Georgia Sieben
4. Diamond Hill CV Tequila Crystalyn – Mali Dillon
5. Wallumlands Ethel 22 – Charlotte Strong
Class 9 Heifer, Dry born 01/04/14 to 30/06/14 Senior Leader 
1. Sun Vale Spectrum Renita – Katie Anderson
2. Camberfield Galaxy – Sam Hackett
3. Glenbrook Venus 30 – Brittany Liebich
4. Dryfesdale Tanbark Pretzel – Rebecca Daley
Class 10 Heifer, Dry born 01/04/14 to 30/06/14 Junior Leader 
1. Calthorpe Vanahlem Cream – Ella Young
2. Three Creeks Rosarian 8 – Sophie Chittick
3. Brunchilli Gator Maquita – Jack Michael
4. Kookaburra Gwab Boondabar – Joseph Clarke
Class 11 Heifer, Dry born 01/01/14 to 31/03/14 Senior Leader 
1. Sun Vale Attitude Jodie-RC – Katie Anderson
2. Shirlinn Tequila Dawn – Jaclyn Lundsay
3. Lemon Grove Honeymoon – Zoe Hayes
4. Wisteria Park Sweet Dreams – Sarah Ludington
5.Paschendaele Vicki Titan – Jamie Why brow
Class 12 Heifer, Dry born 01/01/14 to 31/03/14 Junior Leader 
1. Rowlands Park Brax Shamrock-ET – Kaitlyn Wishart
2. Pooley Bridge -Rover kay 179 – Rachel Lucich
3. Emu Banks Shuttle Shade 7427 – Rachel Dickson
Class 13 Heifer, Dry born 01/07/13 to 31/12/13 Senior Leader 
1. Bolview Dream-A-Rilla – Brittany Liebich
2. Pooley Bridge Fever Blackrose 48 – Sam Hill
3. Bolview Rhythm Atalia – Dylan McDonald
4.Sunshine Farm Fowler 5 – Dylan Morris
5. Inverell Fernleaf 193 – Tracey Millett
Class 14 Heifer, Dry born 01/07/13 to 31/12/13 Junior Leader 
1. Burn Brae Baltimore Jolene – Jasmin Mackie
2. Bruncilli Glory belle 2 – Christopher Wright
3. Segenhoe Park Reginald Patsy – Cally O’Shannassy
4. Boldview Faraway Dreamer – Hayley Brander
Class 15 Heifer, in Milk born 01/07/13 to 30/06/14 Senior Leader
1. Wallacedale Topeka Melaine – Scott Lockeridge (sells Tuesday 11:30am)
2. Lindon deb Fire Kite-RED – Katie Anderson
3. Darrynvale Vans Cheryl – Ellie Hourigan
4. Juggling Hazel 6866 – Matt Gregory (sells Tuesday 11:30am)
5. Pooley Bridge-Aftershock – Sarah Dodd
Class 16 Heifer, in Milk born 01/07/13 to 30/06/14 Junior Leader 
1. Crobico Shuttle Susette – Jake Scott
2. Pooley bridge fever Kay – Rachel Lucich
3. Gower Park tequila Marthas Joy – Allie McDonald
4. Chevron AS Lady – Taya Hayes
Class 17 Heifer, in Milk born 01/01/13 to 30/06/13 Senior Leader
1. Elmar Zelgardis Jessica 3 – Brady Hore
2. Mikandan Vanahlems Caramel 2275 – Olivia Hendebo
3. Strongbark Sid Georgette – Erika Quinn
4. Sensei Atwood Electra – Anthony Glennen
5. Bluechip Windbreak Paradise 2-ET – Rachel Mason
Class 18 Heifer, in Milk born 01/01/13 to 30/06/13 Junior Leader 
1. Sun Vale Redliner Wonka-RED – Renee Anderson
2. Carisma Cairnhill Presence-1-ET – Zali Deenen
3. Hillview Park Brina Eve – Tahlia Railton
4. Rowlands Park Braxton Farlex – Kaitlyn Wishart
5. Hyena PP Caboose – Cally O’Shannassy
Senior Championship Handler – Jaclyn Lindsay
Intermediate Championship Handler – Zoe Hayes
Junior Championship Handler –Sarah Lloyd

Australian genetics in two high profile Canadian barns

Two well-known Canadian barns have opened their doors to a decorated Australian cow family.

The news bubbled up in the lead-up to Australasia’s premier dairy show – International Dairy Week (IDW) – which will be held at Tatura (two hours north of Melbourne) between January 17 and 22.

This year’s Holstein judge is Pierre Boulet, from Montmagny, Québec and he is at the epicentre of the story.

Pierre and his partner, Katie Coates, milk 110 Holsteins. Pierre also deals in thousands of cattle annually for commercial dairies and export. He is the co-owner and auctioneer for Les Encans Boulet.

Pierre’s keen eye to find the good ones and develop them is well documented (particularly) through the achievements of three EX97 global household names in the business – Thrulane James Rose EX-97-2E 3*, Bruynland Storm Kendra EX97 and Loyalyn Goldwyn June EX97.

In November, Pierre bought milking yearling Fraeland After Bash VG87 for $24,500 from Fraeland Holsteins, in Ontario, through the Sale of the Stars at The Royal.

Fraeland After Bash VG87-2YRS-Can sold by Fraeland Farms to Ferme Pierre Boulet.

Fraeland After Bash VG87-2YRS-Can sold by Fraeland Farms to Ferme Pierre Boulet.

After Bash’s granddam was Australia’s two-time IDW Grand Champion Holstein (2005 and 2007) – Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E.

Fraeland Goldwyn Bonnie EX95 is owned by Fraeland Farms who imported her as an embryo to Canada. She has established the Australian family in North America.

Fraeland Goldwyn Bonnie EX95 is owned by Fraeland Farms who imported her as an embryo to Canada. She has established the Australian family in North America.

The Aftershock daughter is out of an EX95 Goldwyn, which Ontario dairyman Steve Fraser (Fraeland Farms), imported in a package of embryos from Jed Bonnie. Steve came into the embryos because he is the co-owner of Jed Bonnie with Leslie Farms – his good friends and colleagues in Australia – who managed Jed Bonnie on behalf of the partnership during the height of her career from their northern Victorian base.

Australia’s two-time IDW Grand Champion Holstein in 2005 and 2007 – Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E. Photo: CrazyCow In Print.

Australia’s two-time IDW Grand Champion Holstein in 2005 and 2007 – Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E. Photo: CrazyCow In Print.

Steve, who last saw Jed Bonnie aged 15 when he visited Australia in 2014, says her Goldwyn daughter is a head-turner and a favourite at Fraeland.

Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E

Fairvale Jed Bonnie 94-ET EX-1E

“Even this fall, when she was milking about 19 months, visitors were amazed at the cow for her dairy length, udder and her mobility for an eight-year-old cow,” Steve said.

“We don’t fit her into our program, we try to work with hers. She is quite the cow to work with. She is the boss around here. She is an extremely dairy cow with an awesome udder. She may not have had the stature to run with some of the cows at the Royal or WDE in her prime. But she is fast becoming a great brood cow.

“I have sold heifers locally for people to show that are now developing them into VG two-year-olds. I have exported embryos from her to Europe, New Zealand, Australia and even sold some locally. She is due early March to Doorman and she will be flushed heavily again next year.

“With the few daughters she has, and how they have developed, we would really like work with her reproductively and not worry about how much we show her now.”

Although showing is no longer a priority, the Goldwyn held her own, winning Reserve All Ontario Junior two-year-old in 2009, 1st Jr 2yr and Res Int. Champ Autumn Opportunity 2009 and 2nd 4yr Dufferin Wellington show 2011. She was also 2nd 5yr and Res Grand Dufferin Wellington 2012, 2nd 5yr Autumn Opportunity show 2012 and 1st aged cow and Hon. Men Champ Dufferin Wellington 2014.

“I do rate the Aftershock as a tremendous young heifer with an extremely high-ceiling future. She has an incredible udder. She is so very correct through her loin, rump and rear leg. Currently she lacks a bit of balance. She is very tall with an open rib but you would like to deepen her rib and give her some more width of chest. To be honest, she is made quite a bit like her granddam, Jed Bonnie, as a first lactation animal. If all goes well, she could be quite a cow in a year or two.”

Pierre confirmed he had big plans for the young cow.

“I noticed her before the sale and kept my eye on her in the ring in hopes of buying her,” Pierre said. “She has an exceptional bone quality, she’s very dairy and has a great udder. When cows have feet and legs like hers, you know they’ll be around for a long time. To top it off she has a great pedigree behind her, and she comes from a good family.

“She’s due back in the fall so we will be working with her to get her in top shape to hopefully bring to the fall shows,” he said. “I really like bringing that kind of pedigree into the barn with a good sire stack and strong family because it’s the type of families that you want to breed from and develop.”

The root of the family comes from Master Breeders Fairvale Holsteins, owned by Ross and Leanne Dobson, in Tasmania.

Fairvale is Australia’s most successful prefix when it comes to breeding Grand Champion Holsteins at IDW – despite being separated from the mainland by 240km of ocean and expensive transit costs.

Still, three cows – bred and reared at Fairvale – have collectively won five IDW Champion Holstein titles (for three different exhibitors) between 2005 and 2014.

The anchors for the Bonnie family internationally is the EX95 Goldwyn at Fraeland and an EX94 Derry daughter at Bluechip Genetics in Australia (Fairvale’s longtime partner in marketing its profile animals).

The Derry, now 10, was the lucky result of the single C-grade embryo Fairvale and Bluechip retained after they sold Jed Bonnie to Leslie Farms and Fraeland in 2004 soon after she had won Reserve Champion Holstein at IDW milking over 300 days, set for IDW 2005.

Fairvale and Bluechip have since sold 40 embryos from the Derry, and 30 live animals. Ten Bonnies remain at Bluechip – including the 2015 IDW Junior Champion, Bluechip Goldchip Bonnie (x VG87 Shottle x EX94 Derry x EX-1E Jed Bonnie). The Goldchip will return to IDW this year as a milking senior two-year-old.

“Over the years, Bluechip have developed and shown many Bonnie family members from their branch of the family,” Steve said. “Our Goldwyn Bonnie does not have as many daughters as the Derry, but they all have been showable and marketable and I am starting to admire and like the consistency in which this family breeds for show type,” he added.

Fraeland has an 88-point second calved Sid and two October 2015-born Bradnick daughters. Goldwyn Bonnie is carrying a Doorman heifer and two more Doorman heifers will be born in the spring.

Pierre has never visited Australia before. Now, he has a vested interest in seeing what the country has to offer – including seeing the full sister to After Bash sell at IDW (she will be offered by Windy Vale Holsteins).

He also has Australian partners in Goldwyn June (Diamond Genetics – Justin Walsh, Phil Duncan and Matt Warnes) in addition to Kevin Doeberiener, of Ohio. The final piece to the jigsaw puzzle will be landing on Australian soil and seeing what the top cows in the southern hemisphere look like lined up in the ring together.

“I’ve always heard of the quality of the Australian genetics and wanted to make it to the show for several years,” Pierre said. “I guess the opportunity just never presented itself, and it all seems to be happening around the same time. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to visit a bit and check the cow families out.”

This is a journey that begs the question – could it signal a subtle shift as North American breeders widen their net looking for fresh genetics in a market, saturated with core families?

The Bullvine will be at IDW capturing pictures, interviews and results with CrazyCow In Print12469421_799074293536778_5170522758805005227_o – the publications known the world over for bringing the complete story.

Melbourne 2015 Royal – Working their way to the top

Two years ago Katie, 17, and Renee Anderson, 15, stood last in almost every class at the Royal Melbourne Dairy Show.

They made a decision that day to change those results, and late last month the teenagers dominated the new-look all breeds youth show under Canadian judge Brian Carscadden – taking home $4200 in prize money.

Katie and Renee Anderson with their Senior Champion and Supreme Champion heifer, Bluechip Toffees Apple-RC.

Katie and Renee Anderson with their Senior Champion and Supreme Champion heifer, Bluechip Toffees Apple-RC.

 

They won Champion, Reserve Champion and Honourable Mention in the senior heifer show, Supreme Champion of the show, and Champion and Reserve Champion handler.

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It finished off a spring show programme that also notably included them winning Grand and Reserve Grand Champion handler at the Adelaide Royal two weeks earlier.

Their Supreme Champion heifer, Bluechip Toffees Apple-RC, headed off the winner of the junior heifer show, Quality Ridge Windbrook Bonnie-3-ET, owned by Jayke and Bec Fisher.

Judge Carscadden said Toffees Apple was “striking” with very few faults and she was “very easily” his champion. Sired by Aftershock, she was purchased at the start of this year from Bluechip Genetics and the 18-month-old Holstein heifer still boards at Bluechip. Her grand-dam is the $US1 million cow, KHW Regiment Apple EX96.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, I guess,” Katie Anderson said. “We weren’t expecting it at all. We were shocked how well we went – in everything.”

Katie and Renee’s father, Greg, said he was as happy for his daughters as “a dog with two tails”.

“They’re doing all the work themselves and they’ve taken all the information that has been shared with them, and they are working with it,” he said. “It makes them grow up quicker, but I think it’s better for them in the long run.”

Judge Carscadden had watched the two sisters throughout the day, so he knew what to expect once they hit the ring for the handlers’ competition. Brian is no stranger to leading high profile animals – he was booked three months ahead of World Dairy Expo to lead in every Holstein class for some of the biggest names in the global business.

“For me, the most important thing is: ‘who leads that animal the best they can at all times’,” Brian told the audience.

“Sometimes when I get to the senior handlers class, I ask myself: ‘If I owned a really good one and I was heading to International Dairy Week, for example, who would I choose to show that animal for me? And, there is one person out here that I would hire [his champion, Katie Anderson], because she never gives up.

“She has a big heifer. A difficult heifer. You’ll notice she came into line and she could have settled, but she kept working until she got her in the perfect position. When I came back around the end she had her heifer set up perfectly and I appreciate that effort, and I appreciate that she recognised the heifer wasn’t at her best and she got her to where she needed to be.”

YOUTH SCHOLARSHIP TO INDONESIA

For 18-year-old Keeley Warren, her first Melbourne Show has given her the chance to visit emerging dairy regions in South East Asia – courtesy of a $10,000 Dairy Youth Handlers’ Travel Scholarship. The award was announced at the end of judging and the first-year university student said she was excited and overwhelmed. She works part-time for well-known Holstein and Jersey breeders Stewart and Hayley Menzies, at Nowra, New South Wales.

MELBOURNE RE-BUILDING

The show had its detractors in the lead-up to the event, because it is a long way from the heady days when it was one of Australia’s most prestigious dairy shows.

Less than 50 dairy animals were on the ground, and there were no in-milk classes offered. There was also genuine confusion in the lead up to the event, about whether the show was for open exhibitors or for juniors. In the end, open exhibitors worked it out for themselves. Most spectators felt the show had a future with a junior focus.

Judge Carscadden agreed: “I think there’s something to build on from here and it’s up to the people if they want to make it work or not,” he said.

“It’s a really beautiful facility, even though it’s not easy to get in or out of. The quality of the show was good. They weren’t deep classes. They weren’t big classes, but the ones at the top were quite good and I was able to find the type that I like, which is nice. I hope they continue to make some good money available to these young people, because without the youth, where do we go?”

ROYAL MELBOURNE DAIRY SHOW

Judge: Brian Carscadden, Canada

All Breeds

JUNIOR CHAMPION HEIFER – Quality Ridge Windbrook Bonnie-3-ET – sire: Quality Ridge (Jayke and Bec Fisher, Girgarre)

RESERVE – Brindabella McCutchen Nan – sire: BKM McCutchen (SD and JL Sieben, Torrumbarry)

HONOURABLE MENTION – Brindabella Woody Kay – sire: Pine Shelter Clay Wood (SD and JL Sieben, Torrumbarry)

SENIOR CHAMPION – Bluechip Toffees Apple-RC – sire: MS Atlees Sth Aftershock (GB and MM Anderson, Yarroweyah)

RESERVE – Sun Vale Attitude Sara – sire: Damartini Attitude-Red-ET (GB and MM Anderson, Yarroweyah)

HONOURABLE MENTION – Sun Vale Spectrum Renita – sire: Charpentier LFG Spectrum RC (GB and MM Anderson, Yarroweyah)

MOST SUCCESSFUL GUERNSEY HEIFER – Riverton Lewis May – sire: Riverton Wonder Lewis (EST HWR Troutbeck, Yuroke)

MOST SUCCESSFUL JERSEY HEIFER – Brunchilli Glory Belle 2 – sire: Rivendell Nates Glory IMP (owned by Brunchilli Jerseys – shown by Deniliquin High School)

 

JUNIOR HANDLERS

8 – 10 years

1st – Jet Easterbrook (Tatura)

2nd – Catherine Michael (Deniliquin)

 

10 – 12 years

1st – Bailey Roberts (Katunga)

2nd – Henry Michael (Deniliquin)

3rd – Charlie Waters (Deniliquin)

12-14 years

1st – Christopher Wright (Finley High School)

2nd – Billy Michael (Deniliquin High School)

3rd – Georgia Sieben (Torrumbarry)

 

JUNIOR CHAMPION HANDLER

Christopher Wright (Finley High School)

 

SENIOR HANDLERS

14 – 16 years

1st – Renee Anderson (Yarroweyah)

2nd – Lincoln Sieben (Torrumbarry)

3rd – Rosie Archer (Finley High School)

16 – 18 years

1st – Katie Anderson (Yarroweyah)

2nd – Lora Schulz (Cobden)

3rd – Alana Schulz (Cobden)

18 – 21 years

1st – Rachael Barnes (Finley High School)

2nd – Keeley Warren (Wagga Wagga)

3rd – Daniel Charlton (Deniliquin High School)

 

SENIOR CHAMPION & GRAND CHAMPION HANDLER

Katie Anderson (Yarroweyah)

RESERVE – Renee Anderson (Yarroweyah)

 

For full class results – http://www.rasv.com.au/Events/RMS_Home/RMDS_Home/RMDS_Results/RMDS_SearchResults/

 

This article first appeared in the latest edition of Crazy Cow in Print.  Click here to learn more.

New lightweight rotary design firing international interest

A revolutionary rotary dairy platform that is 80% lighter than concrete and five times stronger will be operating in Australia within months.

The design has been patented by Waikato Milking Systems from Hamilton, New Zealand, and incorporates a product usually found in bullet-proof vests and aircraft.

Demand for the Centrus platform contributed to 40% growth in Waikato’s international business last year — principally driven from demand in the USA, the UK, China, South Africa and Australia. 

Growth is expected to jump by a similar margin again this year — despite the reality that Waikato is operating in a dairying landscape struggling with disappointing milk prices.

The Centrus platforms have been the icing on the cake for Waikato’s most recent success story, but it is far from the only story. It has taken Waikato just three decades to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of rotary dairy platforms and technology. 

The Centrus platform is the latest hero in Waikato Milking Systems’ business.

The platform is made using a multi-layer laminate process that includes Kevlar®, a synthetic fibre used in a host of applications from bike tyres and racing sails to probably its best-known use: body armour. Because of its high tensile strength, Kevlar is one of the strongest man-made fibres on the market. Waikato infuses it with resin in a multi-layer design, which gives it extreme impact resistance. High profile rubber mats, that are water jet-cut in Germany, are fitted and secured into the recessed moulded platform at installation.

Kevlar’s lightness and strength has been a game changer for big dairies, says Waikato’s Chief Executive Officer, Dean Bell.

“The platform is more power-efficient, because it is so much lighter,” Dean says, “but the real gain on these systems is that a rotary platform is very much like a great, big bearing. And the more stress and load you can take out of it, the longer you can go between service intervals. It just makes a lot of sense to use modern materials that are strong and also very, very light.”

Dean says candidly that Centrus has fuelled recent international inquiry, but ultimately it has been Waikato’s ability to control design, manufacture at high quality and complete full dairy installations in house, that has completed the big picture.

The new Centrus dairy platform is 80% lighter and five times stronger than concrete. Photo supplied.

The new Centrus dairy platform is 80% lighter and five times stronger than concrete. Photo supplied.

Turnkey ability a strength

The fully New Zealand-owned company is housed under one roof on 1.6 hectares in the heart of dairying country in the North Island. From there, Waikato designs, manufactures and installs everything used in the dairy – right down to the receival vessels.

Dean has been with the company 25 years, and says when it comes to milking componentry, Waikato has produced some of the most technologically advanced innovations on the market today.

“We are one of the only companies in the world that can do everything from start to finish. I actually can’t think of anyone else. With all of our divisions together under the one roof, it means we can share the common designs right down to the smallest details. There is nothing we can’t build. It’s just a matter of getting the guys together and making sure it fits.

“We have lots of pretty interesting technology and componentry that historically we’ve sold to various parts of the world. But over the last handful of years we’ve really started to get focused on our rotary expertise. And as we’ve got bigger, we started exporting complete rotary solutions.”

Big targets

He says interest in the Centrus has mainly come from big dairies – many of which are milking more than twice a day.

“The one we’ve just finished the design on is for an 84-bail dairy and, to be honest, the target audience is almost exclusively international, and it’s almost exclusively for 24-hour dairies that milk big, North American-bred Holsteins.

“The Centrus also includes the new automatic aligning pivot roller, so it’s designed for high-use dairies that never shut down. For the big international dairies, we also use steelwork that is almost three times the weight of what we use typically here in NZ or in countries that are more grazing based.”

Waikato Milking Systems had a big presence in the trade exhibits at last year’s World Dairy Expo at Madison, in the USA. The event draws 70,000 visitors from 90 countries annually. Photo: Dianna Malcolm.

Waikato Milking Systems had a big presence in the trade exhibits at last year’s World Dairy Expo at Madison, in the USA. The event draws 70,000 visitors from 90 countries annually. Photo: Dianna Malcolm.

Staff at the ready

For the first Centrus installation, not only did Waikato ship the ready-to-assemble dairy in four containers, it also sent its development team. So, if any tweaks were needed, they had the qualified staff on the ground to make it happen. It takes two weeks to install the platform and another two to three weeks to install the milking system.

“It’s a bit different doing it that way, but we wanted to have the designers seeing how things worked in practice,” Dean says. “Then it can be more of an engineering assembly.”

Waikato also produces conventional concrete rotary platforms, one of which – the Orbit – has an extra-wide (2.7m) deck, providing protection for the milking machine and a larger standing area for the cows. Its range of herringbone systems includes one that has a single 100mm milk pipe, which drains into a receiver at the end of the pit, making milking fast and uninterrupted.

Innovation award

Dairy componentry remains an important part of the business.

“Earlier this year we introduced an electronic milk meter which won the Supreme Award at the Plastics Industry Design Awards. It’s the most accurate meter on the market, giving farmers real-time information on the production of each cow.”

Dean adds that the company’s SmartD-TECT mastitis identification technology continues to be one the simplest and most accurate ways to find mastitis in individual quarters early, with the system alerting the operator. More company innovations were expected to be unveiled at the New Zealand Fieldays, in Hamilton, in June.

“We understand farmers don’t want to invest in large capital items which become outdated, so future-proofing is factored into everything we do.”

Confidence builds quality

Dean says Waikato’s focus continues to be on customer satisfaction.

“We have grown in confidence over the years. We’re building very high quality products that are very innovative, in a space where no one has operated before.

“And so, to a certain extent, I think we are pretty good at this and we’re very, very fussy. We find when we bring customers from around the world to our office – and they go through the factories and meet with us – they almost always buy.

“So, we’re not really selling in that sense. Typically they have seen a lot of our competitors already, and if they are buying from us then we’re not doing too badly. And they are making an informed decision. If we’re not the right decision, then we’re not the right decision. We want people to get to the end of any major project and feel that we were decent to deal with.

“Ideally, it makes sense for our clients to make a quick trip to New Zealand – and, it’s not the worst place in the world to visit.”

andrew crazy cow cover

This article first appeared in the June – August 2015 Edition of Crazy Cow in Print.  Click here to check out there Facebook group.

Australia misses its quota prices

Much has been written about what goes on in the market free-zone of the southern hemisphere.

The truth in 2015 is that unless the farms have no mortgage, private price contracts with niche companies or no paid staff, Australian producers are as exposed as any other nation’s to low milk prices.

It is hard to generalise on the producer’s position in the world’s third-biggest milk exporting country, because of its size and diversity. The state of Victoria produces 66% of the country’s total milk production (and 86% of the country’s export milk). So it is Victoria that gives the most complete focus to what the bulk of Australia’s dairy farmers face up to every day.

Most Australian dairy herds are challenged by extreme heat at some point of the season. Photo: Sheila Sundborg.

Most Australian dairy herds are challenged by extreme heat at some point of the season. Photo: Sheila Sundborg.

Australia is the driest continent in the world. Its farmers deal with extreme heat in the summer, and water is expensive and often restricted by the government. With heat also comes the risk of fire — and critical management decisions for animal safety and welfare. Floods are also more common that many would expect — both in the tropical parts of the nation and in other areas.

Most herds stand under sprinklers before and after milkings to ease summer temperatures that can reach regularly reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Photo: Sheila Sundborg.

Most herds stand under sprinklers before and after milkings to ease summer temperatures that can reach regularly reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Photo: Sheila Sundborg.

In short, it’s an extreme climate that is home to volatile milk pricing.

And Australia has become a target for foreign investments hunting milk — encouraged by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board regulations (FIRB), which are only triggered by the sale of Australian companies whose assets exceed A$231 million (US$176.67).

Canadian milk processor Saputo, spent more than half a billion Aussie dollars (US$382) early last year, to acquire 87.92% of Australia’s oldest surviving dairy company, Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co Ltd (WCB).

Cynics could argue they were not necessarily buying access to the Asian market (given that Vancouver is closer to Beijing than Warrnambool) and that they were, in fact, perhaps buying access to the world’s cheapest milk.

Australia’s genetics are competitive on the world stage, with North American embryo sales now well established. And the world’s best families are represented throughout the country. Here are two Golden Dreams from the Sid daughter of O’Kalibra.

Australia’s genetics are competitive on the world stage, with North American embryo sales now well established. And the world’s best families are represented throughout the country. Here are two Golden Dreams from the Sid daughter of O’Kalibra.

Most processors paying 40-45c/litre

AUSTRALIA
LAND MASS: 7.7 million sq km
POPULATION: 22 million
IN PERSPECTIVE: Australia is the planet’s sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA and Brazil. It is the world’s largest island and the only one of the largest six nations that is completely surrounded by water. Roughly 20% is desert so it’s hardly surprising that it’s the world’s driest continent.
MILK PRODUCTION: 9.2 billion litres of milk

Most of the major milk processors in Victoria are currently paying around 40-45 Aussie cents a litre (0.31-0.34 US cents), which is the cost of production per litre on most farms — without factoring in a return on investment.

Players pulling the strings include the milk processors and two supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, who between them have a 72.5% market share of Australia’s grocery sector. None seem too interested in the farmers’ financial struggles.

A milk processor can change the game in the blink of an eye – as Parmalat did at the start of February.

Without warning, it sent an email stripping 23 cents/kgMS (kilogram of milk solids), that’s 18 US cents, off some of its suppliers, leaving mid-season prices at A$6.09, or 47c/litre (US$4.66, US$0.36). And it closed its door to step-ups — which are price rise opportunities — for the rest of the year.

However, it didn’t touch the price for many of its New South Wales suppliers. The price inequality between states and regions (at the discretion of the processers) has long been a bone of contention for producers, regardless of whether milk is being used for manufacturing (export) or for the fresh milk market.

And sadly, sudden price cuts have become routine.

One of Parmalat’s producers, Lloyd and Cathy Chesworth, of Willette Holsteins, said the decision would cost them A$90,000 (US$68,830) this season on a 700-cow herd producing seven million litres.

Lloyd, 66, said, “We had all but ordered an activity system for the cows [to monitor heat and herd health]. As soon as we read that email, we changed our mind.

“When you lose $90,000 in a season without doing anything wrong, it knocks the system. The Australia dollar is down 30% compared to last year and world milk prices are down too. It’s doesn’t make sense, and I think they’re being opportunistic at our expense.”

= In summer, much of Australia has no pasture in the wake of tougher water restrictions.

In summer, much of Australia has no pasture in the wake of tougher water restrictions.

Numbers horrify 

Nutritionist and dairy farmer Andrew “Ange” Angelino, of the Dairy Business Centre, agrees. He has been heavily involved in the industry for more than two decades. He advises many of the best operators in the country, and has deep and credible knowledge of the costs and the margins in both Australia and New Zealand.

“The supermarkets are screwing us without any doubt, and the government is not stepping up to stop it.” – Andrew “Ange” Angelino.

He also operates Kentgrove South, a dairy farm at Mt Schank in South Australia, which this season will milk 700 cows — down from 850 because of low milk prices. In addition, he also owns shares in other dairy farms that milk, in total, about 2200 cows.

He paints an ugly picture of Australia’s future dairy industry unless things change. He says rising core costs on-farm — coupled with milk prices that can drop harder and faster than aeroplanes in heavy turbulence — are taking their toll on this generation, and scarring the next.

Ange says producers need higher and more reliable margins against what nature throws at them, and, more importantly, to encourage their children to get involved.

Tasmania is Australia’s most natural milk-making climate; it’s separated from mainland Australia by 240km of sea.

Tasmania is Australia’s most natural milk-making climate; it’s separated from mainland Australia by 240km of sea.

No happy farmers

NEW ZEALAND
SIZE: 268,680 sq km
POPULATION: 4 million
IN PERSPECTIVE: New Zealand is the size of Colorado. New Zealand’s two main components are the North Island and the South Island, separated by Cook Strait. For a small country, it packs a punch. It’s the world’s biggest producer of dairy products, aided by its near-perfect climate for dairy farming.
MILK PRODUCTION: 20.7 billion litres of milk

I can’t sit here and say I know a happy farmer in Australia at the moment,” he said. “Why is it food around the world is a similar price, if not cheaper than in Australia, but the gap between the price of food in Australia and its farmers is bigger? What is happening to our margin.

“The supermarkets are screwing us without any doubt, and the government is not stepping up to stop it. We were supposed to be flying high when more than 50% of our milk production was being used domestically. It’s now at 60% and we’re still done over.”

“Australians have to feed 3.5kg of grain a day, just to get the same value out of their grass as a Kiwi [New Zealand] farmer feeding no grain.” – Andrew “Ange” Angelino

Ange said in the past five years, his farm’s power bill had lifted from A$70,000 (US$53,535) a year to A$220,000 (US$168,255) — backed down to A$160,000 (US$122,370) after a forthright “chat” with the power company. The hourly rate of contractors used for specialist repairs and maintenance had lifted from A$50/hour (US$38) to A$120/hour (US$92/hr) in some cases.

“They charge like doctors, and may as well arrive in an ambulance when you factor in their travelling,” he quipped.

He said staff costs were also debilitating.

“In Australia we battle to get anyone to work for less than A$50,000 to A$60,000 [US$38,240-$45,890], and you often have to follow them around all day because they don’t know what they’re doing,” Ange said.

“We hear about all these seminars about how to farm more efficiently or how to cut costs. We’ve done all that for years. We are among the most efficient producers in the world now — how about we have a conference about revenue raising?”

Australia’s National Holstein Show (International Dairy Week) held each January is the largest dairy show in the Southern Hemisphere. (See 2015 Results here)

Australia and NZ trail the world on payday

Ange said he wasn’t surprised that Australian and NZ producers are also at the wrong end of the deal when he lined up global farm-gate milk prices on an independent website.

Australia is routinely 30-40% behind its EU and US counterparts. Farmers in China are paid 2.5 times more, and Canadians receive almost double Australia’s price for their milk.

“And what really annoyed me about that, was that the prices were factored last year when NZ was paid the highest prices it had ever seen,” Ange said. “And they were still three Euro cents a litre behind the EU. And once you convert that through the exchange rate, they were six to seven cents a litre behind the EU. Again, that’s on the back of the best price New Zealand had ever seen.”

Ange says generally Australia has the world’s cheapest milk and the core (daily) running costs of pasture-based farmers he assessed eight years ago were A$1250 (US$956) a cow. It meant that they were covering their costs once the cows produced 4000 litres/cow (on a 32c/litre payment, which is US$0.24).

A re-assessment of those numbers in today’s market reveals that core costs have risen to $1800-$2000 (US$1375-$1530) a cow. So, to cover the costs (on pasture) at 4000 litres per cow, producers now needed 46 cents a litre (US$0.35), just to achieve par.

“And in the last eight years, farmers have seen 46 cents a litre just once. How do you think everyone went at 36 cents [US$0.28] two years ago?” he asked rhetorically.

Australian farmers have access to much cheaper land than in NZ. But NZ’s dairy producers do not have to compete against mining for its government’s attention. Consequently, it also enjoys markedly more respect as an industry. It also has the power to slow the country if its farmers are not spending.

Searching for the positives, Ange dug deep. The best he could find was that Australia was “a nice spot to live”, and that milk was mostly produced from pasture, and therefore the protein in the ration for the southern hemisphere was relatively cheap.

“If cows can get most of their protein from grass, their producers are a long way ahead of the game. And one day the world will wake up and realise that pasture-based farming does produce a better product … but that’s another story for another day.

“NZ can do that even better because their climate and grass quality is also better. In the TMR [total mixed ration] world, high-production herd rations are generally corn based, which has no protein. So there is subsequently a high requirement for protein and usually they have to feed 7-8kg soya bean meal to keep the ration in balance.

“Imagine if soya bean meal when to $600-$700/tonne [US$460-$535]. It is almost undoable financially. We [Australia] have to be careful not to over-complicate our ration to the point we are that reliant on buying protein.”

China buying up

Ange said increasing sales of Australia’s agricultural land to Chinese buyers did not bother him.

“I hope they [China] buy it all. Many Australians don’t care. The government doesn’t care — why should we? It would be good if the gap between domestic and export was swallowed up, because then we would have more power against the supermarkets, as they do in NZ, and they would have to negotiate with us.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to tell Mr Supermarket, ‘you can go and buy milk powder from China and bring it back here [Australia] and add chlorinated water to it and try and sell it as fresh milk’, because that’s all generic $1/litre [US$0.76] of milk should be. Ask British farmers how they feel at the moment?”

Some of Australia’s top show cattle could easily compete at the worlds largest shows like World Dairy Expo in the US or The Royal in Canada.

World needs quota

Ange’s summation cuts to the core of what Canada faces right now.

“The whole world needs some sort of quota in my opinion,” he said.

“The world needs more milk, we can do it, but we need to get paid for it. I believe we need more control over supply and demand for this type of industry.

“I look at Canada and at 82 cents [A$0.86] a litre (to the farmer) the Canadian consumer doesn’t complain. They know they have a farmer making money and the town he supports is making money. I’m not sure if Coles and Woolworths have taken over every town in Canada, but weren’t regional centres good when everyone went to the butcher for their meat, the baker for their bread and the pub for their beer?

“That’s when towns were vibrant. I drove through Girgarre and Stanhope on the way to Rochester [in northern Victoria] recently and it was a wake-up call to see the buildings that were shut and the general lack of energy in the community.

“These towns are all located in the heart of Australia’s dairying country and they are struggling. These towns were hit hard by prolonged drought and water restrictions, but there’s more going on now.”

 

 

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The Bullvine – Comfortable making others Uncomfortable

andrew crazy cow cover‘We have made people uncomfortable … and we are comfortable with that’

No one saw it coming.

The Bullvine arrived like a speeding freight train.

It also knocked the media outlets off their axes. It challenged everyone. Its early online stories rampaged through the industry like a bull in a china shop. 

It wrote the calls people thought, but never said.

People were shocked, even horrified … and they starting talking.

And that was exactly what founder Andrew Hunt wanted. Conversation and dialogue. Because this dramatic entry almost three years ago was no fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants’ decision. This was a strategic start to a fresh age of media coverage in the dairy industry.

And as everything starts to shake down and settle in, The Bullvine has rapidly become a power player with purpose and 30,000 readers. Its reach and impact is now unquestioned.

The publication is heading into 2015 with big plans that have yet to be revealed, but in an exclusive interview at World Dairy Expo (WDE), Andrew briefly stopped and allowed a tour of the frenetic and clever brain that is poised to dominate this industry’s media…

Andrew Hunt, 37, is a man of many layers. He comes from a powerful, tight well-connected family within the Canadian industry, who all had something to lose when their son/brother made the decision to initiate the outwardly controversial, online media outlet, The Bullvine.

He appeared — to many — to come from nowhere. The opposite is true.

His parents, Murray and Karen, are not only Master Breeders (Huntsdale Holsteins) but also integral industry leaders at the highest levels in the Canadian Holstein industry.

His brother, Paul, is the Chief Operating Officer for Alta Genetics (based in The Netherlands) and his sister, Heather, is a nutritionist for ANC (Agri-Nutrition Consulting, based in Ohio, USA). All are strong personalities with responsible roles. They are also potentially visible targets for any Bullvine detractors.

Strong connections

However, that is not how this close family works. Andrew has his parents’ and siblings’ support. They often disagree, but they are always in each others’ corners. And they were all sitting ringside together at WDE.

Andrew says, “If you know Paul, you know him as Paul Hunt and respect him for who he is. He’s not Andrew, Murray, Karen or Heather Hunt. If you judge any of my family because of what I do on The Bullvine, then you are discrediting yourself, not my family.

“We are all A-type personalities and we have all charted our own courses. But it doesn’t mean we’re not close. We’re family. We just had to learn to separate our work from our family time, and I have to say that kids have been amazing for changing that Christmas dinner-time conversation!”

Andrew’s mother, Karen Hunt, muses, “The first discussions about The Bullvine were colourful. You might say we were as surprised as anybody. However, with a lifetime of experience with Andrew’s somewhat unorthodox approach to technology and communication, we were ready to trust his instincts.”

Dad Murray adds, “And there was only two weeks between the time Andrew first ran the idea of The Bullvine up the flag poll, and the day the first article went up on February 24, 2012.”

Murray and Karen are the only additional official team members working for The Bullvine today, although staff from his two other companies play roles when they’re needed.

Murray says, “We both love it!  Every day brings new ideas, challenges and contacts. It has taken the discussions that we’ve always had around our kitchen table and expanded them more than a little … to around the world.”

Driven back to dairy

Andrew went to the University of Guelph in their Bachelor of Commerce, Agricultural Business and Management programme, and earned his stripes on a six-figure income in the Fortune 500 consulting services world.

He was always a ballsy, driven and restless personality.

So it did not surprise the people who knew him well when he left the security of his former employment with the full support of his new wife, Dr Zosia Hunt (who was still a student then). They also had a two-year-old and a newborn child at the time.

He established his own marketing agency from the ground up, Inbound Sales Network (which would also later include Inbound Accelerator, for tech start-ups). Today it has over 100 team members. The company has been incredibly successful and, for many, that would have been plenty.

Not for Andrew.

“I love the dairy industry. That’s why I left and came back. It’s a drug that I’m hooked on. And it’s what I’m most excited and passionate about,” he says.

The Bullvine is the result of Andrew’s ongoing passion to work within the dairy industry, blended with a skill set and history that brings new dynamics to a sometimes-predictable news medium.

Real and edgy

He did not launch The Bullvine to make money. He launched it to create energy and a strong message for the industry.

The opening salvo on The Bullvine’s webpage remains as a reminder that things were going to be shaken up:

“Let’s start with what we are not. We’re not just an event reporting magazine. We’re not a billboard or promoter of whoever will pay us the most money. We are something different, something real.”

Andrew says, “When we first looked at the publications in the marketplace, we knew we were up against well-established, traditional family-around-the table reads. If we did the same thing, we were never going to be successful. We had to use the power of community and conversation to really drive our growth.

“We also needed to be edgier — especially in the first year. We have made people uncomfortable, and we’re comfortable with that. Over time, some would say we have softened our stance. But I think the industry has also adjusted and there is greater acceptance of what we do. I think the industry has come to us somewhat.”

Shock and relief

There was no question that the opening stories shocked some. Others were relieved someone had finally put a voice to what they were thinking.

In the beginning, 2000 people read The Bullvine’s email and online messages a day.

Today, it reaches that number within an hour of an article being posted. In a week, 30,000 dairy people are reading what The Bullvine shares. In any given day it has between 7000 and 10,000 visitors. It’s a bustling outlet that publishes five feature articles a week and 10 news releases daily on anything from show time and profiles, to genomics, sire breakdowns, politics, innovation and education.

Andrew says it’s not so much the shock value that drives him, as the desire for transparency.

“Yes, we wanted to get people’s attention and knock people off their centre and be as far from the norm as we could be. But we have always been about clarity and transparency. In my industry, those are your staples. In the dairy industry everyone has been too worried about being friends with everyone else. It is a small community, so there is pressure to not offend anyone.

“But because of our monetisation strategy, I don’t depend on income from the typical sources, so I can say what I want to say and take it for what it is. What I don’t think a lot of people understand is that because we had planned our strategy for the first three years, we didn’t take the initial feedback personally.

“We knew it would be coming. The interesting thing for us was because we weren’t connected to the industry as a financial driver, it gave us the freedom to express ourselves honestly.”

Honesty achieves

And honest they have been.

They have called out many people from many parts of the industry, and entertained stories few dare to write. They have tackled taboo topics such as Photoshop and show previews.

The Photoshop editorial prompted Andrew to introduce the Dairy Marketing Code of Conduct, designed to make photographers, AI centres, breeders and graphic designers accountable for any changes to cattle photographs.

“I discovered many new issues with current photography practices. The biggest one is just plain old laziness,” Andrew says. “They are too lazy to do it right. ‘Photoshop saved careers’, they told me. I say, ‘Photoshop has made many photographers lazy.’”

Advertising pressure

Yes, today The Bullvine carries advertising. But that has not changed who or what they write about.

“I’ve always written what I’ve wanted to write. There’s been some people we’ve written about that most would argue that we shouldn’t have because of their backgrounds and/or industry perception.

“But if I think they are interesting and I’d like to know more about them, then we’re going to write about it. And if I’m the only person that reads it, cool. We have done those stories. But I say to the people who challenge me on that, that the decision’s on me since I’m paying for it. So I guess I can have that opinion. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.”

God or data

Andrew has also called opposing media outlets to account for making claims on readership. The most notable and recent being readership demographics.

“You need data to back what you say with regard to that. Here’s my analysis: in God we trust, everyone else better bring data.

“When you have a number of Facebook followers from India and Pakistan — that have an average herd size of three cows — those readers are not showing cattle or selling genetics. The top four cities that register on The Bullvine are Quebec, Madison, Toronto and Montreal. We’re Canadian. It’s self-explanatory who has the most useful readers.”

Hefty research into ringside photography

One of the strongest evolutions of The Bullvine has been the initiation of ringside online show coverage and extensive ring photography.

“When we started I wasn’t going to do it because everyone else was,” Andrew says. “I’d never done photography, but soon realised that I needed photographs, and, being a techno guy, I thought, ‘let’s rock’ n’ roll’.

“I was a huge fan of Han Hopman [Holstein International photographer] and I used my technical skills to study his photos and assess his camera settings. I have also spent close to $50,000 on camera equipment since we started, and received training from photographers outside the industry and drove everywhere in North America to get better. I also bored my kids senseless picturing them. But we do have some insane family memories because of it.

“I still think Han is the best composition photographer there is in the world and he does an amazing job of telling a story with a photograph. This journey for me has turned out to be very rewarding and helped the growth of the company.”

It has also added to the workload, because, while many outlets have several staff ringside, Andrew is mostly either on his own or accompanied by his parents as back-up. He uses his technical skills to overcome running a smaller team, and makes it look more effortless than it probably is.

Coffee-table book + picturing for free

Picturing led Andrew to producing a coffee-table book of photographs post WDE and he has many showman ask for photographs for their marketing campaigns. It is something he does for free.

“They work so hard to get those animals out there, how can I have the right to charge them and reap the benefit of ‘snapping a photo’ of a cow that looks amazing?

“It’s an honour to have that opportunity and that’s why I put every photograph on Facebook. All I ask of the breeders and owners of the cows I picture is that they don’t remove my logo. Other than that, they can go nuts with them.”

Last year, over 14 photographs taken by The Bullvine were used for industry magazine covers.

Next steps: education and mentoring

Taking on the photography pushed Andrew to embrace the next step — something he likes to do.

“If you stay in your comfort zone, you are not progressing and if you don’t challenge yourself every day by either improving your strengths or working on your weaknesses, then you’re not developing as a person. The day that happens, I will quit.”

The business has evolved from its base as a genetics, show and genomic-based commentary, through to also being an educational tool. It now has as much focus on dairy industry issues as it does on the subjects it began with — genetics and shows.

The Bullvine recently initiated The Milk House — the World Wide Dairy Breeding and Dairy Genetics Group on Facebook. It is a closed chat room for producers from all around the world to share ideas. Already, all manner of things have been covered, connecting the industry in a new way at the grassroots level. There are more than 2000 posts a week.

Andrew has also established a network where dairymen can be part of conference calls with a “board of advisors”. Andrew is not involved, other than to facilitate. It is purely actioned to help dairy farmers. “The quality of discussion on these calls is very informative and helps us understand our industry better and how we can better serve it.”

It’s learning from others that first got Andrew started in the dairy marketing industry.

“When I was in university, I was approached by Albert Cormier and Dave Eastman to do the marketing for their soon-to-be-released sire Champion and their new company GenerVations.  Albert is legendary for his ability to market dairy cattle and David’s one of the smartest guys in the industry and at the forefront of breeding circles.” Andrew says they were a “great breeding ground for what he has become”.

Running a responsible line

Day to day, The Bullvine is growing and Andrew Hunt is growing with it — including his presence in the dairy industry.

With that comes greater responsibility — and that’s something he does not take for granted.

Of his direct approach, Andrew says, “I am more apt to run you over than stab you in the back.”

But helping the industry share ideas and progress is what drives him and makes him happy.

“I’m the luckiest man there is in the world,” he says. “I have a wife who ‘gets me’, who supports me and who is out of my league. She is the biggest stabilising factor in my life outside of my parents, who taught me to always believe in myself.

“When you are doing what you love and you can pay your bills, what else is there? The Bullvine can go on forever if I still have passion for it. How do you get bored with something that at your core is who you believe you are?”

This article first appear in the December 2014-February 2015 Edition of Crazy Cow in Print.  Click here to check out there Facebook group and watch for their new website soon.

IDW Preview

As Australia rounds the corner of 2014 to see in 2015, the first thing that the registered industry zeros in on is International Dairy Week (IDW).

The Tatura venue in Northern Victoria (two hours from Melbourne) will welcome all breeds from throughout the country between January 18 and 22.

The biggest breed show is the Holsteins, and 2015 judge Ken Proctor will be a first-time visitor to Australia. The UK dairyman, his wife Rebecca, and sons Robert, 33, and Ralph, 28, milk 500 cows on an intensive system on a 405-hectare (1000-acre) holding in Norfolk under the Airfield prefix.

Ken says he was “honoured and excited” when Brian Leslie approached him.

“I love other cultures, I love visiting other dairy industries and seeing what other farmers face in terms of various challenges and how they go about producing their milk.”

Ken says he loves type and longevity in his herd, and they breed for no-nonsense cows giving a lot of milk. While Ken hasn’t visited Australia before, oldest son Robert had previously worked in Australia for nine months, so he wasn’t flying blind.

Ken says he will judge with complete honesty and integrity.

“Obviously in terms of the cows, it will be a little bit of suck it and see. But I’m really looking forward to it, and we are prepared for the heat and the flies!”

Ken has served thrice on the Holstein UK board — having been Non-executive Director of Research & Development, Breed Development & Classification, and National Show Director, and was the UK Holstein President in 2009. Ken is also the Chairman of East of England National Farmers Union (NFU) Dairy Board and a member of the NFU Dairy Board. He believes in serving to be in a position to effect change.

Other judges include:

Matt Templeton – Australia
ABS Australia/Ridley All Breeds National Youth Show

Matt was raised on a registered Holstein farm in Victoria, Australia. He worked as a professional cattle fitter for 13 years, travelling throughout Australia and into New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Brazil and Germany. He has had the privilege of helping prepare some of the best cows in the world, including 2012 World Dairy Expo Supreme Champion, RF Goldwyn Hailey. He has also worked with the Budjon Show String at Madison, USA, for seven years. Matt is now working with Coomboona Holsteins (Toolamba, Victoria) as its Show Herd Manager. Matt also operates his own 50-head herd under the View Fort prefix.

Glen Gordon – Australia
Sheri Martin Memorial Youth Showmanship Classes

Glen works on the family farm in Cohuna, Northern Victoria, where his family milks 600 cows — predominantly registered Holsteins, with a limited number of Jerseys and Illawarras. Glen and his brother Drew manage the farm, with their father Ross in support. They have a 50/50 split with registered and commercial cows on 486ha (1200ac). Glen has been showing cows since he was nine years old, starting with Elmar Holsteins and then Corra Lea Holsteins.

Duncan Hunter – England
National Ayrshire Show

Duncan Hunter is from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, just outside the famous M25, London’s orbital motorway in England. He is married to Sarah and they have four children. Glen bred Ayrshire cattle all of his life under the Haresfoot prefix. He sold his herd in 2011 for a record-breaking UK average after selling Haresfoot Farm, which has since been developed into a new horse livery business with commercial lettings at the farm. Duncan is still is involved in breeding through his syndicate partnership under the prefix Smartmove. He has judged most of the UK’s major shows, including the National All Breeds Calf Show, Royal Highland, South West Dairy Show, Great Yorkshire, the new UK Dairy Day and Balmoral among others. He has also judged in Finland. Duncan works for the UK Ayrshire Cattle Society as its breed manager for Ayrshires UK.

Laurie Chittick – Australia
National Illawarra Show

Laurie was the fourth generation to own and operate the Lemon Grove herd until its final dispersal in October 2014. Born at Kiama, NSW, in the heartland of Illawarras, the family ran stud Illawarras until 1989, when Laurie, his wife Sandra and children Andrew, Murray and Nicole, moved south to Victoria’s Goulburn Valley to continue dairying. Laurie has served 40 years on the Breed Classification Committee, with more than 20 years as Chairman, and was on the Board of Directors for 17 years, with three as Federal President. He holds Life Membership of both the federal and state bodies.

Allan Clark – Australia
National Guernsey Show

Allan Clark owns and operates Sunny Valley Guernseys at Lismore, NSW. Together with his wife Julie and daughter Shannon, Allan also operate Clarkdale Holstein.  They run a pasture-based dairy, milking around 200 cows, calving all year round in Australia’s sub-tropical region. Allan is the current Guernsey NSW State President and Federal President. Sunny Valley Guernseys has been breeding and showing Guernseys for four generations since 1938. One of the most distinguished Guernseys that Sunny Valley has bred was Sunny Valley Lorry Maretta who scored 94 points as a six-year-old.

Rebekah Mast – USA
National Brown Swiss Show

Rebekah grew up on the family dairy, Calori-D Holsteins, in Denair, California. She has enjoyed significant success in the show-ring at the state and national levels with both Holsteins and Brown Swiss. Some of her most recognised animals include the 2004 All-American senior two-year-old, Lylehaven Durham Marriet-ET, the 2012 California Grand Champion, Calori-D Jasper Marigold-ET, and the 2012 Western National Reserve Senior Champion, Bekah-Jo Vanguard Sandy. In 2005, Rebekah was the National Youth Ambassador for the Brown Swiss Cattle Breeders Association. Rebekah graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she majored in Dairy Science and minored in Agriculture Business. While at Cal Poly, she was a member of the Cal Poly Dairy Judging Team that was high team at the 2004 National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. She was second-highest individual overall at the same contest. Rebekah has served as an official for the Collegiate and Post-Secondary Dairy judging contests at the World Dairy Expo for the past seven years. She was approved for the Holstein Association USA Qualified Judges List.

Hank Van Exel – USA
National Jersey Show

Hank and Carolyn Van Exel have a family farm in Lodi, California, USA. They have three children and seven grandchildren, who are all involved in the dairy business with their son still on the farm. The Van Exels farm 972ha (2400ac), milking 2000 cows, of which 1600 are Holstein with the rest Jerseys. Their prefix is Exels and their herd average is 32,830 on the Holstein and 22,500 on the Jerseys. The Van Exels have more than 130 EX Holsteins and 72 EX Jerseys. In the show-ring they have had over 30 All American nominations and Reserve Grand with both Holsteins and Jerseys at WDE as well as winning the Jersey Jug in Louisville, USA. Hank has judged in 11 different countries, including at Louisville Jersey Show (USA), WDE Jersey and Holsteins and the Royal and IDW Holstein Shows.

Stephen McCarthy – Australia
Jersey Futurity

Stephen and his wife Jenny own and operate Ascot Jersey Stud at Budgee in Queensland. They exhibit their cattle at the Toowoomba Royal and Royal Brisbane Shows each year.

Ken Proctor – England
National Holstein Show

Born on a dairy farm in Norfolk, UK, Ken has milked cows all his life. He farms in partnership with his wife Rebecca, and two sons Robert and Ralph (their daughter is a self-employed physiotherapist). The Proctors milk 500 cows on an intensive system, producing all forage on their 405-hectare (1000-acre) holding in Norfolk under the Airfield prefix. They like to produce trouble-free cows that perform well to help maintain the 10,000kg herd average. They have more than 90 EX cows in the herd.

Ken believes in the importance of good cows, so has served for three terms on the Board of Holstein UK, been Non-executive Director of Research & Development, Breed Development & Classification, and National Show Director, as well as breed president in 2009 — its centenary year. Ken is also the Chairman of East of England National Farmers Union (NFU) Dairy Board and a member of the National NFU dairy Board. He is a great believer in serving on these bodies so if something is amiss he is in a position to do something about it.

Be sure to check back daily for complete results and joint coverage by The Bullvine and Crazy Cow In Print

2015 PROGRAM OF EVENTS 

SUNDAY January 18

9.30am – Non-denominational Church Service – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

1pm – Youth Clinic – Blackmore & Leslie Complex 

MONDAY January 19

8am – ABS Australia/Ridley All Breeds National Youth Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

2.30pm – The IDW Youth Showmanship Classes – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

4pm – Holstein Australia Victoria Youth Challenge Trials – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

6.30pm – Holstein Youth BBQ and Presentation of Awards – Wilson Hall

TUESDAY January 20

8am – National Illawarra Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

8am – National Ayrshire Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

8.30am LIC ‘Genetics for Profit’ Half Day Farm Tour – call Liz on 03 5480 3377 for information

9am – IDW seminars begin – Tennis Club Rooms

12pm – Machinery & Farm Field Days, supported by Dairy News Australia – Main Oval

12pm – IDW Elite Ayrshire Sale – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

1.30pm – National Guernsey Feature Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

1.30pm – National Brown Swiss Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

5pm – NAB Agribusiness Cocktail Hour – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

7pm – IDW Jersey Showcase Sale – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

7pm – NHIA 2015 International Dairy Dinner – Cellar 47 Restaurant, Shepparton

8pm – Virtual Farm Tours – Grange Farm & Van Exel Dairy – Wilson Hall

WEDNESDAY January 21

8am – National Jersey Show – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

8am – Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) Industry Leaders’ Breakfast – Ballantyne Centre

8.30am – Semex Holstein Daughter Inspection Tour

9am – Machinery & Farm Field Days, supported by Dairy News Australia – Main Oval

9am – IDW seminars begin – Tennis Club Rooms

12.30pm – Jersey Australia Futurity Class – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

1.30pm – National Jersey Show Continues – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

5.30pm – NAB Agribusiness Cocktail Party – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

6.00pm – Genetics Australia Happy Hour – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

7.30pm – IDW World Wide Sires Evolution Sale – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

THURSDAY January 22

8am – IDW seminars begin – Tennis Club Rooms

8am – National Holstein Show – Class 1 to 8 – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

9am – Machinery & Farm Field Days, supported by Dairy News Australia – Main Oval

12.30pm – MaxCare Challenge – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

1.30pm – National Holstein Show Continues – Class 9

4pm – Grand Champion Presentations – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

4.30pm – Presentation of Lex Bunn Memorial Award – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

5.30pm – Presentation of Australia’s Grand Champion – Blackmore & Leslie Complex

Be sure to check back daily for complete results and joint coverage by The Bullvine and Crazy Cow In Print

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