A milk management tool with a cash bonus

Flatter milk production, a shorter spring joining and a ‘second opportunity’ for quality cows, these are just some of the benefits one Gippsland family have obtained from using a specified dairy-beef insemination program. The fact they also get valuable ABS InFocus™ animals delivering a “cash cow” later in the season is just a bonus.

The Boyd family, Ranleigh Farms, at Foster and Yanakie have 37 ABS Beef InFocus™ Jersey and Friesian-cross calves that were born in December. Grazing in the paddock at their dairy farm, Estelle Boyd said “you couldn’t tell half of them were out of Jerseys and half were out of Friesians”.

Earmarked to be sent to the family’s out block, until market or seasonal conditions dictate a sale date, Estelle and her son Brett have used ABS Beef InFocus as a ‘tool’ to manage milk and cashflow. “Because we shortened our spring joining, we created more empty (cows),” Brett explained. “But instead of being culled, we gave them another joining chance in February, to calve in December, and if they are any good, we move them into our autumn calving group. It gives our good cows another chance to get back into the herd but breeding them to ABS Beef InFocus means they are also producing a beef calf that has value.”

Estelle and Brett Boyd with Trevor Jury check out their ABS Beef InFocus Jersey and Friesian-cross calves, born in December.

The Boyds will now breed more of their lower genetic merit animals to ABS Beef InFocus, using genomic results to guide these decisions. Estelle and Brett were both impressed with the fertility of the ABS Beef InFocus semen, and they never had any issues with calving. Their carry-over cows that were joined to ABS Beef InFocus were bred as part of a fixed time artificial insemination program across five days.

“When you think about it, we are starting with the dodgy ones – cows that didn’t get in calf – but in saying that we were still getting 50 per cent of them in calf with the PG program,” Brett said. “I think that is pretty good as that’s what we are getting from our maiden heifers in a similar program.”

The mother and son team are joined on farm by Estelle’s husband Geoff, Brett’s wife Kelly and their children Jase 7, Charlie 6, Gordy 4 and Zoe 1 month, as well as Kelly’s dad, Trevor Jury. The family milks about 550 cows, depending on the season, across two farms with the herd containing about 60 per cent Jerseys.

They chose to use ABS Beef InFocus after doing a similar program with Angus a year earlier. Brett said they opted for ABS Beef InFocus the second year on the advice of local ABS sales representative Alan Blum and the knowledge there were buyers wanting the animals.

For Estelle, the ABS Beef InFocus calves provide a “quicker turn around” than the Jerseys. “ABS Beef InFocus provides a positive cash market for calves from 10 days old, whereas with Jersey heifers, there is no real market until they are 200kg-plus or 12-15 months of age, unless someone is specifically chasing them,” she said. “This means there’s a lot more risk for us to carry Jersey heifers through, especially in unfavourable seasons.”