“It is a great and rewarding life.” “We’re balls to the ball”. Those are two heartfelt comments that represent two sides of the dairy coin in Australia (Read more: Is Down Under Going Under?). But if ever a couple can be counted on to have their coin land right side up, it’s Dean and Dianna Malcolm of Bluechip Genetics. Welcome to part two of the series inspired by the Aussie Dairy industry. (Read part one: Dean and Dianna Malcolm: Forward in Five Gears! That’s Aussie D.I.Y.) Dianna tells us that it’s cows and people that will get things right side up down under. Of course this author-dairy-woman-marketer has a very unique viewpoint.
They’re Sold on Great Temperament
“We also market fairly heavily about the temperament we put on our cattle with the work I do in the calf pens and the work Dean proactively continues when they are taken by him at 8 months. I should also mention that Dean is gifted at building trust with animals that we bring in from other operations. We both believe that you can’t get the best out of them if they are not happy and confident. We have found that buyers are coming back, partially for that reason, and that if a cow turns out not to be an International Dairy Week Champion they can forgive her some if she is a pleasure to work with.” For those who might question this attention, Dianna responds. “Some people say they don’t have time to put into their calves. I could easily argue the same thing – but I believe it’s important to make time for the babies. Like children, you only get one chance to shape these animals’ temperament. And I feel a massive responsibility too that we take them from their working mums and they need lots of love and a safe environment to grow.”
Corkers in the Show Ring? Too Right!
The past seven years have been very busy but they are justifiably proud of one area in particular. Since starting farming in 2006 Bluechip has won Premier Breeder (four years) and Premier Exhibitor for the last three successive years at the fourth biggest show in the world, International Dairy Week (IDW). This year they also won Junior and Reserve Junior Champion and four of the heifer classes. (Read more: 2013 IDW Holstein Show Results) Last year they won the first three heifer classes, including four of the top six places in one class. “That has been perhaps more challenging to achieve because we have staged annual sales every year and sold a lot of our top animals,” Dean said. “To be able to hold it together going forward competitively to this point (for us personally) has been an accomplishment.” Dianna adds “It is a credit to Dean’s forward planning and management. He is always thinking ahead and I think that has been a big strength for us.”
They Target Good Cow Families.
Dean and Dianna profess to following a simple breeding philosophy. “We love great cow families,” Dean said. “From there we love to sire stack and we use bulls from great cow families. One of the key things is udders and in particular rear udders. Another key thing for us is rear leg, rear view. We don’t get caught up in the stature. We like to keep the angles right. With regard to Genomics, we are using some. However, we have to have the families and the sire stacks that we believe in within that.” They look back with pleasure on one of their early successes. “Fairvale Jed Bonnie EX was co-bred by myself and Ross and Leanne Dobson (our longest partners – 15 years),” Dean said. “Di and I didn’t have a farm when we bred her. Bonnie was owned by Leslie Farms when she won International Dairy Week 2005 and 2007. She was Reserve Champion under our ownership in 2004. At the time we sold her, she was set for 2005. In more recent times Bluechip Drake Whynot is proving to be one of our very best brood cows and the dam of this year’s Junior Champion at International Dairy Week (Bluechip Alexander Whynot). Of all her daughters sold they have averaged close to $16,000. Bluechip Goldwyn Noni is another exciting prospect. She’s due in July and I believe we have not had an animal on farm with the size, length, width and beautiful set of feet and legs. She’s ticked every box right now – she was Reserve Junior Champion at International Dairy Week in 2012.”
“You also need a super network of people around that you trust. And that can be anything from your grain supplier to your nutritionist, to your banker and the good friends and family that you can confide in when things are tough or good!” Dean said.
High on the list of those who have mentored Dean and Dianna are their parents. Dianna credits her parents Donald (now deceased) and Averill Leslie for their work ethic and “for teaching me how to feed and care for animals and how to treat people with respect.” For Dean it was his grandfather and father. “Bob Marshall (Paringa Holsteins) was an exceptional cowman and a pioneer of the industry,” Dean said. “My father, Phil, keeps us grounded and has shared his knowledge and huge work ethic.”
The ripple then goes out to Mike Deaver (Sherona Hill) “for being one of the great cowmen of all time and a man who has been so generous with his friendship and advice” and Dean Geddes (Tahora Holsteins, NZ – Di’s cousin and Dean’s close friend). A special person has been Chris McGriskin (Canada) who has fitted their IDW team for seven years. “Dean and Chris are very tight and Dean thinks of him as his brother. And that is one of the wonderful things about his industry. The friendships that you know will be lifelong.” Dianna cherishes one such special friendship with John Brooks. “He was the man who gave me my first job as a sports journalist back in 1987. He changed my life and he was one of the last great scribes of the sports world. I have his photo on the wall beside my desk and I think of him often and still ring him in New Zealand fairly regularly.” Both Malcolm’s treasure those who mentored them and are exceptional at mentoring others, especially the young.
Pass it On to the Young People
“We are so grateful to spend some time with these young people and know that the industry is richer for their presence.” Dianna is speaking for Dean and herself when she draws attention to Darci and Justin Daniels (Hixton, US), Sheila Sundborg (Ormstown, Quebec, Canada) and Katie Kearns (USA, relocating to a new position with Gen-Com). She elaborates. “These four have impacted our lives in the last years. All have visited and lived with us without knowing us beforehand. And they have all become part of our extended family. And that is the real gift of this industry. The friendships that form and stick. Katie left this week after living with us for the last six months and we are planning some exciting things with Katie with some cattle within her new role. Darci and Justin are already partners in cattle with us and they have registered Bluechip-USA on our behalf and one day we hope to show a string of cattle at the WDE. Nothing like dreaming big, is there?”
Bullvine Bottom Line
Dreaming big and working hard is the key. To the Malcolms it is teamwork and solidarity that is building their present and protecting their future. As they set an example of hope for others, we encourage them. “You have a huge wall of support around you. Keep laughing and believing in yourself. You’re already so outstanding, we’re completely gobsmacked!”