Current Bull Team: King Doc, Mr Spring Nitro, Mirand, Bentley, Lustre P, Buffalo, Lottaclass
Important traits: longevity, functional, good feet and legs, a bit of strength, easy to milk, production and type
First EX cow: Clarodale Juror Janita
Rodney Herrmann of Clarodale Holsteins in South Australia has been awarded the Master Breeder after 49 years of dedication to the dairy industry.
“I always thought anyone who got a Master Breeder must be really superb and I’m really pleased because it’s recognition and reward for all our hard work and years of breeding good functional cows” says Mr Herrmann.
Raised as a fifth generation farmer, Rodney grew up on a dairy farm in the Adelaide hills which his father started in his 20s in the late 1940s.
The farm and house, built in 1890, belonged to his great grandfather who was a sheep farmer and the property was passed down directly to his father, who started the Clarodale stud in 1973.
As the middle child of five children, Rodney decided he didn’t want a tertiary education like his other siblings and always knew he was destined to work on the farm, as soon as he finished high school.
“I always had it in my mind and my dad was willing to give me a go and allowed me the freedom to try out my ideas” says Rodney.
He explains when it comes to breeding, a large factor to his success has always been the guidance and knowledge from others in the field.
“I was always prepared to get out and mingle with other people in the industry, to pick up ideas, look at dairies and different farms and give things a try” says Mr Herrmann.
He identifies Holstein Australia classifier Phil Hentschke, as an important person who provided him with exceptional guidance.
“Dr Phil people call him! He’s probably one of the best experts I’ve come across in the industry. He’s able to explain things effortlessly” says Rodney.
He reveals consistent registration and classification played a fundamental role in his accomplishments and in the last 10 years, Mr Herrmann’s classification scores have increased.
He states “you take a little more notice of your animals. I can see a direct improvement and classifying and registering cattle has given me something to strive for”.
Cow evaluator David James has also provided breeding advice over the years and encouraged Rodney to breed functional cows with strength and a will to milk.
Mr Herrmann’s property is a dry land farm with no irrigation and barely enough water to get stock water. He keeps things pretty simple by keeping 7 to 8 kilos of grain in the dairy most of the year round.
“With silage and hay and good pasture growing seasonally, we can still achieve reasonable results” he says.
When it comes to his herd, Rodney looks for cows with longevity, strength and capacity.
“They need to have strength to able to tough it out in the conditions here and have a good temperament, be easy to milk and you want good high wide-view udders that are well supported and out of the mud” says Rodney.
He mentions there have been many influential people he has crossed paths with during his career, who made a significant impact on him as a farmer.
“Mark Eckermann from the Pella Jersey stud at Eudunda and Cyril Cockshell, a well-known Holstein breeder and judge, helped me and my dad get onto the right track” says Rodney.
He explains the pair assisted with the Birdwood Dairy Heifer Competition which began in 1966 and gave dairy farmers a great deal of encouragement to aspire to improve breeding and helped progress dairy education. The competition has been running for 54 continuous years and was the first competition in Australia.
He says there have been many others who helped him along the way and they should also be recognised for their achievements in the grassroots of the industry.
“Those who stand out as educators are Michael Rathjen from Glenjoy Holsteins and David Kerber Goldwyn Holsteins from Woodside. They were extremely influential in helping shape dairy farmers” says Rodney.
Mr Herrmann mentions he has been very fortunate to share-farm with his employee Ben Wilhelm who has worked on the property since 2011.
Mr Wilhelm is collaborating with Clarodale Farms and Rodney says ‘he has given them a life-line to continue farming and breeding’.
Last but not least, Mr Herrmann has been supported by his wife Kathy who has maintained interest in the daily chores and has been especially helpful with calf rearing.
“I didn’t ever think we would qualify or be in the Master Breeder league, but as our memories get shorter and as we get older, sometimes we forget we did breed some good cows over the years and I feel very honoured” says Rodney.
Please join us in congratulating the Herrmann family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.