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Panda progress driven by passion – Getting started in farming

Molly’s path to pedigree dairy breeding began in 2002. Her elder sister, Amy, was breeding and showing Dexter cattle and Molly also began to take an interest in preparing cattle for the ring.

“I hung on, as younger sisters do, and helped out and found it all really fascinating and enjoyable. I also thought it would make sense to show some of our own Holstein cattle.”

It was late 2004 when her father, Andrew, bought her a Christmas present which would pave the way to the career and the success she is enjoying today. It was a four-month-old heifer calf – Honesberie Charles Gem – from Nigel Hollick’s Northamptonshire-based herd.

“She was out of the Gem cow family – a pedigree leading back to Canadian genetics with nine generations of VG and EX dams.

“And she grew up to be a tremendous cow, classifying VG86 in her first lactation. Today some of her great granddaughters are winning shows across the country,” says Molly.

Molly is now based in Chumleigh, in Devon, but she ventured abroad before returning to the family farm.

In 2007, aged 16, she took a job working with the world-renowned Morsan Holstein herd in Alberta, Canada.

“I was offered the job while I was still at school,” she recalls, adding that former rep Chris Parry had recommended her for the job.

At that time, the Morsan herd comprised about 2,000 cows with a separate barn for the top-end show cows and genomic animals.

Molly was responsible for the day-to-day care of the show cattle, helping to prepare for shows and sales and assisting with marketing.

“I loved it – I was there for four years and then I faced a tough decision. Stay in Canada or come home and restart a herd in the UK, using all the experience I had gained.

“I’m a farming and a family girl, so it was a no-brainer really. But knowing there were some Panda ‘seeds’ left at home to work with which also helped me to make a decision.”

Her first heifer – Honesberie Charles Gem – was being cared for by close family friend Anne Harrison, who owns the Bassingthorpe Holstein herd at Boothby Pagnell in Lincolnshire.

Molly also bought five embryos from the Fools Gold cow family to bring home with her from Canada. These were from Stoneden Fools Gold – one of the cows she had been working with out there.

“She wasn’t necessarily the best of the bunch, but I could see her potential. She’s a unique Variant Red Goldwyn daughter.”

Embryos were produced using Golden Oaks ST Alexander.

“I think he’s a stylish sire and the only thing which the Fools Gold cow family lacked, in my opinion, was finesse and leg quality. I’d seen some Alexander calves on the ground and thought he’d make a good match.”

All five embryos held and resulted in a red and white bull, a black and white bull and three heifers. “We got lucky,” says Molly.

“The red and white sire, Panda Redfactor Red, was taken by Cogent – our first bull to be snapped up by an AI company – and all three Fools Gold heifers classified well.

“They all performed well in the showring with national titles as calves, and two have since been sold to other renowned UK herds.”

Source: FG Insight

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