Articles

Ferme La Waebera- Magic in the Mountains
Claire Swale

Are you familiar with the coloured shavings, bright lights and Razamataz of Swiss Expo? If the answer is yes, you will certainly recognise the name “La Waebera”.
Always in the hunt for the ribbons, and with thirty eight 1st or 2nd places at Swiss Expo over the last six years, the Clément family have built a solid reputation for breeding great Holsteins. Regardless of colour, first and foremost, their focus remains Type.

LtoR Caroline, Nicolas, Séverine, Martin, Myriam and Michel Clément

1, 2, 3 OF BREEDING

In an era where paper and computers dictate many breeding decisions, it’s refreshing to visit a herd where passion and opinion take priority. “We won’t use a bull from an unknown cow family,” says Martin, “or if he has high cell counts or bad fertility.” Conformation, health traits and production are the 1, 2, 3 of breeding at La Waebera. “Milk in the tank pays the bills,” says Martin, “cows need to calve regularly and be healthy, and we have to enjoy milking them each end of the day, that’s why type remains so important to us.” It’s easy to comprehend the success of their breeding goals walking through the brand, new barn, which they transitioned to in June 2017, nearly 60 milking cows, stamped with a uniformity hard to find in todays’ world.

Cows are milked 2X though a Boumatic rapid exit parallel parlour (12:12) Because of the associated fire hazard of building with wood, The electrics, motor and hot water system is isolated in a fire proofed room.

CHANGING TIMES
Twenty five years ago Michel built the farm for 35 cows, extending it to the point where it was no longer viable. “Everything was too small,” says Martin, “we wanted to provide the cows with a better environment with added emphasis on cow comfort, so we made the decision to build a new unit.” Sympathetic to the aesthetics of the Swiss landscape, the infrastructure is primarily locally sourced wood. Undertaking much of the construction themselves, the Clément family have created a state of the art facility encompassing all the latest technology whilst remaining sensitive to the local environment.
Accommodating a Boumatic rapid exit parallel parlour (8:8), the new unit has sand stalls for 80 cows, which are topped with a mixture of chopped straw and lime. A dedicated transition area for fresh calved cows, has resulted in less problems post calving and cows coming into full production quicker and effortlessly.

The cleanliness of the facility is maintained by the Lely Discovery scraping the slatted floors regularly throughout the day, making full use of the underground slurry storage. Martin explains how the cows behave more naturally in a clean environment, noting that heat detection has improved, as have hygiene standards. Evidently the cows also enjoy the provision of the Lely Luna Cow brushes, which rotate upon contact. The brushes certainly keep the cows clean and relaxed, and it is apparent to anyone who visits how quiet and calm the cows are. “Happy cows are also productive cows,” says Martin. The addition of more space, improving cow comfort, ventilation and lighting are already paying dividends, with higher milk yields, and a marked improvement in the appearance of the cows.

OPPORTUNITY

Inheriting their passion, and affection for the show ring from their father Michel, both Nicolas and Martin were gifted calves by their father when they turned twenty, fueling their own interests. Belonging to Nicolas, Haenni Sid Caline EX-93 (95 MS) claimed Grand Champion at Junior Bulle in 2015 when Michael Heath judged, and at the 2017 Swiss Expo stood 2nd to DH Gold Chip Darling, who went on to become Grand Champion. Embryos from Caline by Doorman have been exported to Canada.

Haenni Sid Caline EX-93 (95MS) (photo to come) 1st and Grand Champion Junior Bulle 2015, 2nd Swiss Expo 2017. Embryos exported to Kingsway Farms, Canada.

Martin’s gift came in the shape of Les Chaux Unix Tigresse, out of VG-87 Seaver then 3 generations of high scored Excellent dams. She calved in October and looks very promising.

Nicolas and Martin both seized the chance to travel to Canada and work for Master Breeder herds including Blondin, Boulet, Crovalley and Kingsway. Working at Blondin, Nicolas learnt a lot from Richard Villeneuve. Richard comes to Swiss Expo every year to help the Clément family, partnering on some cows together. “Swiss Expo is different to any other show, the ambiance, the people and the cows are quite simply amazing,” says Richard, “it’s a big highlight in the calendar for me, and an opportunity to visit and work with a great family who have become close friends.”

Admiring many of the foundation females at Blondin, Nicolas bought into several families including Sunnyfield Kizzy EX-93 7*, dam of 5 EX and 4 VG daughters at Blondin, Canada’s 2009 cow of the year Blondin Skychief Supra EX-93 3E 34*, and Butlerview Uno Card VG-88 2yr, a daughter of the All-Canadian and All-American 2yr and 3yr old Silvermaple Damion Camomile EX-95.

Martin worked at Kingsway Farms in Ontario and lived with the McMillan family. Working with internationally renowned cows like Kingsway Sanchez Arangatang EX-95, a grand daughter of Canada’s Cow of the year in 2016- Kingsway Terrason Allie EX-95 2E. Arangatang has an eye-catching Goldwyn daughter at La Waebera.

A big fan of Knonaudale Jasmine EX-96 (97 MS) now milking in her sixth lactation, Martin did a deal to bring Sid embryos to La Waebera, resulting in full siblings to Knonaudale Mudpie EX-92 3yr the Reserve All-American and Honourable Mention All-Canadian Junior 3 year old in 2015.

The opportunity to learn from some of the best cow people in the business and work with some of the breeds’ best cow families is something they both recommend like-minded young people to do. They gained a wealth of experience, made great friendships, and returned home with genetics from internationally renowned cow families.

OCEANIE – A LIVING LEGEND

La Waebera Glacier Oceanie Red EX-94, 12years old and 106,000kgs of production. Twice Honora-ble Mention Swiss Expo, dam of La Waebera Acme Toronto and La Waebera Destry Tibere, both marketed by Swiss Genetics.

With a healthy Red and White population in Switzerland, Ferme La Waebera has an equal split of Red and Whites and Black and Whites. Regardless of colour they have to be good.

Ticking all the boxes of what they strive to breed is La Waebera Glacier Oceanie Red EX-94, a cow who has produced 106,000kgs of milk, appearing much younger than her 12 years of age, and living in the free stalls as she has all her life.

Oceanie passed under the radar as a Junior cow, but like a fine wine continued to get better with age. In 2012, during her 4th lactation she hit the coloured shavings of Lausanne, walking her way to Honorable Mention (HM), a feat she repeated in 2014 in her 5th lactation. Returning to Lausanne in 2016, she again stood top of her class, at eleven years of age, having produced over 90,000kgs of milk.
Her accolades extend much further than the show ring with genetics from the family in great demand. Oceanie is a living legend and the matriarch of a family which now has 31 members on farm. “Oceanie’s daughters are firstly extremely profitable cows, they give lots of milk and get better with age,” says Martin

Her most successful daughter to date is La Waebera Ralstorm Tina Red EX-91, who was widely acknowledged as one of Switzerland’s best ever 2 year olds and was Honorable Mention Champion at the 2013 Swiss Expo. With 75,000kgs of milk in just five lactations, Tina is fresh again.

SwissGenetics currently market two sons of Tina; La Waebera Acme Toronto and La Waebera Destry Tibere who debuted as #16 with an ISET of 1300 on the Proven sires list for Red & Whites in Switzerland, making him the #1 bull born and bred in Switzerland.

La Waebera Destry Tibere, debuted as #16 on the R&W Proven Sire list in Switzerland, and #1 Swiss bred. His daughters have great dairy strength, fantastic rib and show style.

Both bulls have been used with confidence at La Waebera, resulting in some fantastic outcomes. La Waebera Toronto Joyce VG-87 2yr is a result of 100% home breeding, with an 89 point mammary, she is certainly an exciting prospect for the future, being one of only two or three animals in Switzerland to make this score as two year Olds each year.

With towards twenty daughters sired by Tibere on farm, the Clément family really like what they see. “Just like Tibere’s maternal line his daughters have great dairy strength, and fantastic rib, and they have show style,” says Martin.

At Junior Bulle 2016, the Clément family dominated the Junior classes in the Red and White section, winning six classes, two of which, including the Reserve Junior Champion were sired by Tibere, La Waebera Tibere Ottawa Red then went on to win Honorable Mention Junior Champion at Swiss Expo this year.

A HANDMAID’S TALE
Michel and Raphael Pipoz purchased embryos by Subliem Tulip from Ohiana Momentum Handmaid EX-91, which resulted in five daughters including JB Tulip Havane VG-87. Havane bred 16 females, including La Waebera Tribute Linda EX-91 the foundation for one of the most successful and most consistent families on the farm today. “This family combines the best of both worlds, they make fancy show calves which go on to make great cows who really know how to milk,” says Martin

Originating from Ja-Bob Mark Heavenly Joy, Tribute Linda has produced seven daughters including three generations of show winners. Those winners include her granddaughter La Waebera Joyboy Stella Red EX-92 2E, who represented Switzerland at the European Holstein show in Cremona, and her daughters La Waebera Destry Stena VG, who claimed Honorable Mention Intermediate Champion Swiss Expo 2013, and La Waebera Atshott Shilow who was Grand Champion Junior Bulle 2016 and is in her first lactation.

TO BE CONTINUED

The use of genomic sires has increased throughout Switzerland and accounts for 70% of all inseminations at Ferme La Waebera, but their selection process continues to have a strong emphasis on type. “Since using genomic young sires, the added information we have, particularly on type, has benefited our breeding programme considerably,” says Martin, “we now rarely calve a 2 year old we don’t like.”

The Clément family genomic test approximately 50% of their females born on the Swiss index. One of the most exciting 2 year olds on the farm right now is La Waebera Unix Ilana, her daughter by Toc-Farm Fitz has just been confirmed as the #1 female in Switzerland for type with an ITP +152. Ilana will be flushed to meet demand.

Cows are fed primarily hay and zero grazed grass, with cows going out to pasture when possible. Be-cause of a cheese contract, no silage is fed at all.

Ilana’s dam is a Meridian who placed 5th at the European Holstein Show in Colmar from the Lila Z family, she is in calf to Kings-Ransom 1st Dewars, and is the dam of the #1 Fitz daughter ranked on the Canadian system with a GLPI +3039.

Showing has and remains a key motivating factor to continue breeding great cows. The list of accolades, banners and ribbons won is phenomenal. With far too many individuals to mention in this story, we have barely touched on the success of cows like La Waebera Acme Sublime EX-94, a past Grand Champion of Swiss Expo, such is the volume of winners the herd has produced.

With many chapters already written about the success of the Clément’s Ferme La Waebera, it seems the best is yet to come. With the construction of the new unit and plans to renovate the old buildings to improve the youngstock facilities, the herd will continue to drive forward. Their vision and desire to continue breeding profitable, healthy cows that they enjoy milking will without a doubt continue to provide a strong future for the Clément family and a story which will continue to be told for many years to come.

Farm Facts

  • Located: Le Mouret, 10 miles South of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Owned by Michel Clément and family
  • 135 Holsteins- 65 milking, 70 youngstock (50%Red & White)
  • 196 acres ( 80ha) comprising 184 acres pasture & 12 acres wheat
  • Production : 10,500kgs 3.89%f 3.30%p
  • Ration: Primarily Hay & Grass, complete Energy Pellet, Blend fed am/pm consisting of Lucerne, corn, beet shreds, minerals/salt
  • Current AI Sires: (B&W) Barney, Chief Dempsey, Denver, Randall, Undenied, Unix (R&W) Apprentice*RC, Army*RC, Daniel*RC, Devour*RC & Power RED
  • Herd classification: EX-13, VG-37, GP-18

**Animals from La Waebera have won 38 1st or 2nd place ribbons at
Lausanne Swiss Expo over the last 6 years

 

 

 


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