Ross & Linda Somerville with Clydebank Braxton Leona.
Member: Clydebank Holsteins
Location: Timmering, Vic
How long have you been in the industry: 50 years
Farming generation: 4th generation
Land size: 530 hectares
Cows milked: 300
Important cow families: Lass, Rosebloems, Whynots, Odelias, Gails, Aprils, Carols
Favourite Cow: Clydebank Allen Leonie EX 94 2E
Favourite bulls used: Andes Starlite 3, Allen, Clydebank Le Damion
Current Bull Team: Arrow, Sidekick, Master, Moment, Jacot, Triple Hill Sires Whiteout, Lynch, Jaguar, Lexicon, America & home bred bulls
Important traits: balanced, good feet and legs, capacity and strength
First EX cow: Clydebank Gay Carolyn
North West Victorian Master Breeders Ross and Linda Somerville of Clydebank Holsteins have been awarded the Master Breeder for a second time.
“We are delighted! It’s a lifetime of dedication to the Holstein breed and winning the award twice is recognition of our achievements and involvement in dairy” says Mr Somerville.
It all began in 1972, when Ross left school and formed a partnership with his parents Ron and Nancy and in 1980, Linda and Ross moved to the farm in Rochester.
Roughly 17 years later, they accomplished their first Master Breeder award.
Ross says “we’ve always aimed to breed a balanced dairy cow. While it’s great to have cows that excel in certain traits, it's their weakest trait that limit them from reaching their full potential and a long productive life”.
Mr Somerville highlights cows must be balanced, have good feet and legs to travel long distances and have the capacity and strength to manage in their surroundings.
“We’ve always tried to breed a nice herd of cows that we think best suite Australian conditions and we feel it put us on the right path in achieving the Master Breeder.” says Mr Somerville.
He reveals Clydebank Holsteins have concentrated heavily on using brood cows in their breeding plan due to their great ability to establish strong cow families which has been fundamental to their success.
“We were fortunate to breed Clydebank Gay Lass EX 4-E 40* SBC (star brood cow) and appreciate the impact that one cow can have” says Ross.
He mentions Clydebank has always been prepared to use their own bulls from their best cow families and says it contributed to breeding a consistent herd of cows.
“We find some of the best old cows in our herd, are from our own bulls because we know their traits and we know how to utilise them.” says Ross.
Clydebank Holsteins identify strong cow families through classification, production and ability to produce many lactations by using their pedigree information.
“We certainly value classification and herd testing extremely highly” says Ross.
“The cows we admire most are the ones that classify well as mature cows and obtain the STP Award. They usually have a bit more substance, are easy to manage and have the dairy strength to thrive in Australia's variable environment” says Mr Somerville.
He reveals that breeding well has contributed financially to their business and over the last 40 years, has added an extra income stream.
“There’s a real market for Holsteins, both here in Australia and for export and that’s a big advantage” says Ross.
The Somerville’s have enjoyed being involved with their sub-branch over many years and say they have been fortunate to have a very active sub-branch.
“We’ve really enjoyed connecting with our community. The friendships we’ve made between breeders who have a likeminded interests has really lifted us during tough times” says Linda.
Ross also mentions the sub-branch Annual Sale provided opportunity for showcasing their genetics and their Clydebank heifer was the sale topper at Holstein’s 100 year Anniversary at the Winter Fair in Bendigo.
The Somerville family are all currently active within the Holstein community.
Ross and Linda’s son Tim and his wife Maddi run their True Blue Holsteins in conjunction with Clydebank Holsteins.
Their son Brad and his wife Janelle established Melaleuca Holsteins on their own property and in 2020, Brad became President of North West Victorian sub-branch.
Their other son Dale and daughter Brooke have also been strongly involved in the farm. Brooke is a well-known photographer with Journal covers and the HA website shots to her credit and has travelled overseas to photograph with Holstein International.
“Achieving the second Master Breeder has been a real team effort. We’ve got four children and they’ve all been heavily involved” says Linda.
Although there have been many hardships in the past, the Somerville’s have remained resilient throughout years of variable climate, volatile milk prices and water issues and keep moving forward.
“We certainly hope to continue dairying. Our farm is our home and what we’ve put our life into and we’ve really enjoyed the journey!” says Linda.
Please join us in congratulating the Somerville family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.