Dairy future may be Gyr

Dairy future may be Gyr

Herd Management
NEW BREED: Camperdown dairy farmer Carlie Barry is breeding up a herd of Indian Gyr cattle for milking and potential export.

NEW BREED: Camperdown dairy farmer Carlie Barry is breeding up a herd of Indian Gyr cattle for milking and potential export.

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An Indian dairy breed is making itself at home in south-west Victoria.

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A Facebook post three years ago sparked the interest of leading south-west dairy farmer Carlie Barry.

It was an article on the Indian breed, the Gyr.

"It showed an interesting looking cow with a hump, long ears and large udder," Ms Barry said.

"It had just broken the world record for milk production having done 100 litres in one day.

"After doing more research on the breed, I decided to give it a try and ordered some straws to put into our Friesian and crossbred cows.

"I've since purchased pure Gyr stock from NSW and Queensland and continue to use Gyr semen in my crossbreds and Friesians."

That has led to a current herd of 30 pure and part-bred Gyr cattle.

"My aim in the beginning was to create a cow to cope with climate variability, something that was feed efficient and potentially would work in a herd in Queensland," she said.

After running a 600-cow high input conventional operation for many years, about three years ago, she and her husband Owen switched to a less-intensive, lower-cost but more profitable and sustainable organic operation.

"I am also looking to expand into small-scale, on-farm milk processing and having a unique niche, in this case organic Jersey and Gyr milk, gives us a point of difference over other products currently on the market," she said.

The Barrys run the Woolvie Jerseys and Milking Gyr organic operation in the Camperdown region.

They have 400 hectares of leased and purchased land, having started as sharefarmers with 200 cows in 2010.

"We've recently downscaled to one farm for efficiency and work/life balance, allowing us to focus on some off-farm projects," she said.

It has taken a little longer to reach the goal of milking the Gyrs commercially, but Ms Barry said she was finding a way around the challenges.

"I guess I went into it a bit naively, because I probably thought I would be able to run them with the Jerseys," she said.

"The first-cross Gyrs are half Friesian anyway, so I thought they were going to be easy to milk."

She found they preferred a "one-on-one approach".

"They are a breed that thrives off human interaction; they are originally from India, where they live with a family," she said.

"It's more like milking camels, than milking Jerseys."

She said she intended to set up a small milking shed and run the Gyrs through a race rather than the herringbone system.

Ms Barry said she believed she and Owen were the only dairy farmers running milking Gyrs in Australia.

"I've always like to try something a bit different, and it keeps us interested in dairy farming," she said.

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The story Dairy future may be Gyr first appeared on Stock & Land.

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