Management

Jerseys rich in family heritage

By Dairy News

Patrick Anderson is part of a long family heritage involving the Jersey breed. The 18-year-old dairy farmer from Athlone in Gippsland, Victoria, registered his own stud in 2016, continuing the tradition of using Kings V in the breeder’s prefix.

Patrick’s stud is Kings Veldt and his cows run with the commercial herd of mostly stud Jersey cattle milked by his parents, Lindsay and Jacinta. His parents’ stud prefix is Kings Vista.

“We’ve got cows in our herd we can trace back to those initial cows from 1886, registered under the name Kings Vale by my great grandparents,” Patrick said.

“I’ve got 65 cows, including young stock. My parents have 400 cows, including young stock. We run them all together as a milking herd.

“Most of the herd is Jersey, with a few cross-bred cows used as embryo transfer recipient.”

The family is currently milking 250 Jersey cows, plus 60 dried off for early autumn calving, through a fully robotic dairy.

The annual lactation average is 6100 litres/cow. The 182 ha farm is dryland, mostly rolling hills, with some river flat abutting the Lang Lang River.

“Our calving pattern is a bit spread out. We calve 60 per cent of the herd in spring and 40 per cent in autumn, to take advantage of a bit of feed availability in the spring, so we can milk more cows,” Patrick said.

“Our calving pattern isn’t real tight because of the robots, giving us a level milking curve throughout the year.”

All cows get several chances at AI; all the heifers get two AIs before they meet a bull.

A 1000 mm average annual rainfall benefits spring milking and the river flats provide summer feed. In winter, cows graze the hill country. Pastures are a mix of perennial rye-grass, clover and chicory. Annual rye-grass and oats are oversown in the autumn, followed by millet, rape and chicory crops for summer.

About 1400 rolls of wrapped silage and 200 rolls of hay are baled each year. Oat and wheaten hay and lucerne squares are purchased for the heifers and cows prepared for showing.

Patrick’s responsibilities include decision-making around breeding, calf-rearing and preparing cattle for show, as well as sharing animal husbandry and pasture management roles. He’s not against a bit of experimenting.

This year Patrick chose to use semen from straws that had been sitting in the tank for more than 45 years, from stud bull, Belgonia Golden Double, winner of his class at the 1969 Royal Melbourne Show.

Last year, he and his parents bought 200 cows bred by Colin and Jenny Dowel, who owned the Inverell Jersey stud. This purchase introduced new cow families to the Anderson breeding program, with Butterwinks, Tiny, Sonia and Delicate among the cattle.

Patrick also bought cows from the Lorette family, purchased from Kelvin Trottman, in Yarram.

“There’s only three people with that family — Kelvin, uncle Ian and I. I’ve got the second-largest population of that family in the world — 10 cows,” Patrick said.

“It’s unique.”

Three of the Anderson cow families extend back to five of the foundation families from Patrick’s grandfather’s Kings View stud program. The five foundation families were Pansy, Linda, Rosella, Brunette and Jessima.

“Of those, we still have a lot of Pansy cows through both studs, that’s one of our main families, along with a handful of Lindas and a few Rosellas,” Patrick said.

“Say I take a Pansy heifer to the Royal Melbourne Show and she wins and if you go back through the pedigree, you’ll find her great great grandmother also won at that show. So it’s a traceable lineage.”

As much as the family heritage is tied up in showing and judging cattle, for Patrick the main emphasis is on owning a good commercial herd.

“Any Jersey herd in the country will have Pansy, Silver Mine, or a Belle — those families that have done well for everyone. The thing I like about some of the families is, they’re unique,” he said.

“They’re good commercial cows that get in and do the work. In a few years, they’ll start winning shows or have sons go into sire programs.

“We want cows that still get in and milk commercially, but have that style and finesse that you can take into the show room. Pretty cows that work.”