South Australia State Semex On-Farm Judging 2012


State Over Judging: South Australia
Judge: Patrick Nicholson, Jugiong Jerseys, Girgarre, VIC
Number: 149 entries – 22 breeders

When chance collides with destiny, the results can sometimes be remarkable

South Australian breeders Clem and Frank Mason had one of the most heart-warming stories in this year’s Semex-Holstein Australia On-Farm Competition.

The busy Mason family run more than 7000-acres [2833ha], including two 250-cow herds, cropping, sheep and a contracting business. The team includes Clem and Frank (together with their respective wives, Leanne and Annie), and Clem and Leanne’s sons, Wade and Joseph.

Busy enough in their daily lives, they still carry a strong social conscience and when Clem noticed fellow breeder Jason Curtis (who was a little down on his luck at the time), had a cow living in his back yard, he could not help stepping up. He saw her every day as he drove past. One day she was missing.

“I stopped and asked Jason where she was,” Clem Mason said. “He said she had calved and he was trying to milk her down on the swamp and he had left the calf on her.”

The cow in question was Elm Banks Durham Lassie VG89 and she was a former Intermediate Champion at the Mt Pleasant Show.

Clem asked how the situation was working out for him. Jason replied that it was not going that well because she was kicking the calf and him. Clem starting thinking about it and eventually came back with a solution.

They isolated Lassie (milking her on a portable milker) and tested her for Johne’s. When she tested clear she joined the Jervois herd with the understanding that the Mason family would flush her and Jason would get the first heifer and Jervois would get the next. There was a single Talent daughter, which Jason took. The second flush yielded 28 unfertilised embryos. Finally they joined her to Aspen and she held and delivered the heifer calf that would become this year’s Champion South Australian two-year-old.

Jervois Aspen Lassie classified one point of maximum (for age) at VG87 eight days fresh and the story escalates from there. She went on to be crowned this year’s Intermediate Holstein Champion from the Royal Adelaide Show, before also shining in the On-Farm format.

She may now also be on track to appear at International Dairy Week in January – which will be the first time the Mason family has exhibited there for several years.

Clem said the family was thrilled with the result and looking forward to watching the heifer develop. Her production this lactation so far is 4600 litres in 135 days.

“Who could have known the day that I pulled over to chat to Jason that we would be having this conversation about her daughter achieving all this several years later?” Clem said.

Last year Myponga producers Gino and Amanda Pacitti created national history when they became the first breeders to own a dam and daughter that won Champion and Reserve Champion in the same class in the same year.

Joyley Luckystrike Della-ET and her daughter, Misty Brae Alan Della-ET, created the moment in the 2011 mature in-milk class. This year another of the family, Misty Brae Goldwyn Della-ET, was named Reserve Champion five-year-old. Goldwyn Della’s Canyon-Breeze Allen dam is a full sister to Misty Brae Alan Della (Reserve Champion Mature Cow from 2011). Both Allen daughters are out of last year’s Mature class Champion, Joyley Luckystrike Della.

However, when it came to showcasing deep maternal lines, the 2012 spotlight fell on another South Australian exhibitor, Andrew and Angela Koch, of Glenunga Holsteins. They have won Champion titles all three years they have entered.

Glenunga Drake Butter Kay Ex92, their 2010 On-Farm Reserve Champion three-year-old and 2011 four-year-old Champion, is this year’s Champion five-year-old.  Her dam, Glenunga James Butter Jay Ex 90, was Reserve Champion in this year’s Mature class (after being beaten by her herd mate, Glenunga Jordan Glenna Ex 92).

With two Champions and a Reserve, the couple said the result was a welcome distraction in a challenging season both in fodder and milk prices. They milk 180 cows (including 150 Holsteins and 30 Jerseys under the Ashtaney Jerseys prefix) on 324ha marginal dry land country at Moculta.

“It does lift your spirits and makes you fight to keep on going,” Andrew Koch said.

Butter Kay’s last completed lactation was 8055 litres, 3.1% 248kg protein, 3.6% 291kg fat in 305 days. She was milking 36 litres a day when she was judged.

The next three dams behind Butter Jay are an EX-2E Jed, an EX-3E Inspiration and an EX-3E (Wiabuna Warden Buttercup), followed by another three generations of VG and SBC. Butter Kay has given the couple three heifers, sired by Glenunga Ice Horrice, Bolton and Gillette Windbrook. Butter Jay has three other daughters in the Glenunga herd.

“It’s been a really consistent family,” Andrew said. “They are up there with the best that we have and they love to drop heifer calves so it’s growing quickly.”

Andrew said they always go with the flow in the On-Farm format.

“It was probably a surprise because we never build up too much expectation with the On-Farm because it is completely different,” said Andrew. “You can’t see the competition and we had no idea who else had entered, so we always go along open-minded. Pat [judge, Pat Nicholson] has a great face for poker. He gave nothing away when he was at our farm and he left me wondering.”

Judge Pat Nicholson, who is better known in Jersey circles as one of the co-owners of the well-performed Jugiong Jersey stud, commended the South Australian breeders for the depth in the classes and he gave special credit to the Champion and Reserve Champion four-year-olds, Esjay Trojan Rosette (Steven and Verica Seeliger) and Jervois Talent McKenzie (owned by the Mason family).

“They were so dairy,” Pat said. “The four-year-old Champion was so soft-skinned with a great udder that were just loaded full of texture. The second-placed four-year-old and Reserve Champion overall is best described as strength with dairyness – she had so much width and power while still maintaining her beautiful silkiness. They really were a great pair.”

He summerised: “The class winners would hold their own anywhere, and they were a credit to the South Australian breeders.”

Steven and Verica Seeliger, who milk 400 cows on marginal dairy country at Eden Valley, rate their four-year-old second-calved Champion, Esjay Trojan Rosette, highly. Her well-performed family originates from David Kerber’s Goldwyn stud.

“She’s a cow you don’t really even notice in the herd,” Steven said. “She comes through in the first or second run every day and she’s no trouble. She’s from a good background. Her dam was VG86 and the next two dams were both EX.”

Rosette is from a VG86 Comestar Leader dam and the next two dams are both EX. Rosette’s first completed lactation was 8037 litres 3.4% 272kg protein, 3.4% 274kg fat in 305 days.

Steven acknowledged that organising the competition was a massive job and re-iterated that it had an important role to play in the industry.

“It’s not always perfect, but it gives you an idea and it’s good seeing where your cows fit,” he said.

“Everyone seems to enjoy it.”

The three-year-old Champion was last year’s two-year-old Champion, Grantley Dia Evie, VG87, a Semex-sired La Presentation Diabolique daughter. She is owned by Grant and Bronwyn Liebelt, of Meadows. Evie delivered a Pine-Tree Sid daughter for the family this season. Her two-year-old completed 305-day lactation was 8606 litres, 3.0% 258kg protein, 3.8% 331kg fat.

“I think she’s as good an uddered cow as I’ve ever bred,” Grant said. “We’ve joined her again and I guess we’ll go from there. She is a delight to work with, but she was too fresh to show at Adelaide this year.”

Evie is from an Outside dam (who was cut down in her prime after a calving accident while she was bringing Dia Evie into the world). The Outside is backed by Grantley Tab Evie EX3E, another beautiful member of the family.

“It’s certainly a strong uddered family,” Grant said. “They’re not overly huge, but they all carry great udders,” Grant said.

The family goes back to the Rathjen family’s Glenjoy prefix. Grant and Bronwyn bought Glenjoy Trademark Evie, who had (in turn) come from Rockwood Park’s breeding from the Hiem-Land prefix.  The couple milk 130 cows, with the keen support of their daughter, Bridget.

Two Year Old

1. Jervois Aspen Lassie, C & F Mason (Jervios Holsteins, Jervois)
2. Esjay Trojan Evica, S & V Seeliger (Esjay Holsteins, Eden Vallley)

Three Year Old

1. Grantley Dia Evie, G Liebelt (Grantley Holsteins, Meadows)
2. Esjay Laurin Rayleene S & V Seeliger (Esjay Holsteins, Eden Valley

Four Year Old

1. Esjay Trojan Rosette, S & V Seeliger (Esjay Holsteins, Eden Valley)
2. Jervois Talent McKenzie, C & F Mason (Jervois Holsteins, Jervois)

Five Year Old

1. Glenunga Drake Butterkay, A & A Koch (Glenunga Proprietors, Moculta)
2. Misty Brae Goldwyn Della-ET, G & A Pacitti (Misty Brae Holsteins, Myponga)

Mature Cow

1. Glenunga Jordan Glenna, A & A Koch (Glenunga Proprietors, Moculta)
2. Glenunga James Butterjay, A & A Koch (Glenunga Proprietors, Moculta)

Write up, results and photos provided by Crazy Cow