Classification has been a top priority for South Gippsland breeders of Harklaje Holsteins and the results are paying off.
On a hot summer’s day in February, Terry and Janine Clark were visited by Holstein Australia Classifiers, Rebecca Haebich and Rob Marshall for a full day of classification and the outcome was very pleasing.
The Ginfo herd scored above herd average for all composites, receiving a dairy strength herd average of 86.8 which increased by 1.3% in less than 2 years. HA Classifier Rebecca Haebich said it is a decent jump on average for dairy strength for such a short time period.
The stud operates in a 15 double-up herringbone dairy, peaking at 300 cows that run on 500 acres. Harklaje classifies twice a year to coincide with their autumn and spring calvings when the herd is in its best form.
This spring visit came later than usual but it didn’t stop the Harklaje herd from achieving some fantastic results, receiving 4 new EX cows, 33 new VG cows (including 2 first lactation heifers) and 6 STPs.
Harklaje Holsteins breeder Terry Clark said he was pleasantly surprised with the results.
“I’m especially proud of the STPs because it means they are functional, have achieved good results in their lifetime and have lasted,” Terry said. “It has always has been our aim to get longevity in our cows,” he said.
Over the last 5 years Harklaje has been heavily focused on improving their herd through their breeding program, classifying all first lactation heifers.
Terry said “if you want to get accurate bull proofs, you want to classify all your heifers, not just the best ones”.
In the past, some of their herd’s biggest concerns have been fertility and mastitis. To combat these issues, Harklaje has used classification to identify traits to improve their cows, using data for corrective mating. His son Mitchell works for Semex and has been a large help in interpreting the results for bull selection.
Terry said if you are going to go through the trouble of breeding a cow, you want her to have longevity.
“We have focused on fertility, dairy strength and sematic cells, aiming to breed solid type cows with good udders, and good fertility,” Terry said.