Keeping faith in science

North-eastern Victorian farmers use science to improve herd

Herd Management
FAMILY FARM: Patrick and Brendan Glass in the dairy on the family farm at Gundowring, Vic.

FAMILY FARM: Patrick and Brendan Glass in the dairy on the family farm at Gundowring, Vic.

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Choosing bulls is but one piece in the puzzle that is breeding an elite dairy herd.

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Choosing bulls is but one piece in the puzzle that is breeding an elite dairy herd.

Patrick and Kerri Glass have been on top of genetics since they began dairy farming near the Victorian town of Allans Flat in 1977.

Following several moves, the couple and their family settled at nearby Gundowring in 2005 and now milk a herd of 500 cows on 300 hectares, and lease 200ha for runoff.

Working in a share-farm arrangement with their son and daughter-in-law, Mr Glass said his family's sire selection was based on traits they felt were relevant to their breeding objectives.

"We've tried many different Australian Breeding Values over the years and have been selecting genomic and proven bulls for a positive daughter pregnancy rate and other critical traits for the past eight years," he said.

"There are so many factors to consider for dairy cow fertility besides the genetics. Their diet and too much nitrogen in the annual pasture does have an impact on fertility. It's quite difficult to master."

Mr Glass said they trusted DairyBio's research and remained very confident that it would benefit their business in future.

"I still trust the science. If you don't then what's the point?" he said.

Mr Glass is particularly interested in new ABVs for gestation length, which are just emerging from DairyBio research.

The Gestation Length ABV is an indication of a bull's influence on the number of days from conception to birth.

"We think we're really good with our in-season calving system and we think the gestation length ABV will be very helpful with our seasonal calving system," he said.

"The new mastitis-resistant ABVs are very relevant too and we're looking out for that."

According to DataGene, while most reduction in mastitis comes from improved management, genetic variation for cell count does exist and some bulls produce daughters that are less susceptible to mastitis than others.

Belonging to an extended family of five generations of dairy farmers, Mr Glass is already very committed to continual herd improvement and applying pieces of DairyBio knowledge wherever he can.

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