Sustainable breeding strategy delivers options for dairy family

Incorporating dairy-beef in their breeding program has provided one south west Victorian family with flexibility within their business.

Elingamite North sharefarmers Jake and Melissa Hinkley started using ABS Beef InFocus™ this past season. They’d “dabbled” using sexed genetics for the past five years and said adding Beef InFocus to their breeding program ensured they were on the path to eliminating bobby calves from their business.

Generating an additional dairy-beef income stream was a bonus, especially in the wake of strong beef prices. “We sold ours at five days old, it was easy to sell them – once people knew we had beef calves – they were ringing me wanting them,” Jake said. “Originally, we were going to keep them, but when you can sell them for $300 a calf so young, you take that. It has given us more options though.”

Jake, Melissa and their three children Max 8, Zoe 6, and Lucy 1, milk 350 Holsteins and have just registered their Hinkley Park stud. They recently invested in activity monitoring collars for their herd to better understand their reproduction cycles and get the most from their sexed genetics.

Targeting younger cows and those that cycle early with sexed genetics, they use Beef InFocus across the rest of their herd. They want to end their use of conventional Holstein semen and are confident that this approach to breeding will deliver the 120 replacement dairy heifers they require each year.

While this means they will still be busy rearing calves during the early part of calving, Jake and Melissa don’t begrudge the tiresome task as much when there’s a decent return for beef animals. “You spend five days rearing bobby calves for what?” Jake said. “$30 or $40, it’s not worth it and not efficient.”

Looking ahead, the Hinkley’s are interested in building their assets by adding a beef herd to their business and Beef InFocus could help them achieve this goal. As sharefarmers, adding more animals to their business is a path to growth, but they are also keen to develop additional income streams for diversity.

The Hinkley family recently won ABS Australia’s Sustainability Survey competition. Their prize included 50 units of Sexcel® and 50 units of Beef InFocus to implement their “Winning Game Plan” breeding strategy for profitability and sustainability.

Western Victorian sharefarmers Jake and Melissa Hinkley, with daughter Lucy 1, started using ABS Beef InFocus™ this season and like the flexibility it gives their business.