Baby Willow with Justin, Ros & Gary Zweck & employees Janar Aug & Olivia Laurence, December 2020
Member: DR & ED Zweck
Location: Blyth, Mid North SA
How long have you been in the industry: 44 years
Farming generation: 2 generation
Land size: 770 hectares
Cows milked: 250 all year round
Important cow families: The R family
Favourite bull used: Tennyson
Current Bull Team: Bold, Radio, Perseus (being all sexed) and Vogue CFP (PP) conventional
Important traits: Strength, functional udders, good feet and legs.
First EX cow: Donava Rex Rosanne
South Australian Farmer Gary Zweck of Donava Holsteins has spent 44 years in the dairy industry and has followed in his parent’s footsteps by winning a second Master Breeder title. The first award went to his parents Don and Elva Zweck.
As a second generation farmer, Gary started his dairy career on the farm with his father in Blyth, SA. His parents Don and Elva (whose names combined make up their prefix) bought the farm in 1964 and started off by separating cream.
Convinced by a neighbour to transition into whole milk, Don and Elva built the dairy in 1970 and began supplying Golden North in Clare, and shortly after established the stud.
His father was quick to adopt herd testing and immediately got involved when it became privatised by the state government. Gary and his father separately enrolled in AI courses in the 1970’s and used their new found knowledge to progress genetics within the herd.
“Dad was always quick to be open to take on new technologies” says Gary.
He explains that during the time his father was involved in herd testing and AI breeding, he became aware of the benefits of these tools when coupled with better feed management. Progress was being made and at that time, Donava Holsteins achieved high production far beyond the state average.
Gary states that seeing the potential and progress within the herd gave him further determination and drive to improve.
Mr Zweck says his success is also attributed to his father Don’s interest in new and progressive farming ideologies which resulted in a pivotal business revelation.
“We worked out that confined feeding in our low rainfall environment of 350mm average, was a better way to go than trying to graze” says Gary.
Due to their very low rainfall environment and no irrigation, Gary, Ros and son Justin have fine-tuned their TMR system, concentrating on producing home grown fodder and grain and delivering it to the herd for maximum benefit.
“You can see straight away that if you get the feeding right and the breeding right that you will actually be rewarded with high production and that was the drive for me to keep going.”
Mr Zweck admits he was shocked to learn he had won the award because he wasn’t aware that it could be won more than once.
“I was very surprised to win it a second time” says Gary. “I thought you could only win it once and we haven’t changed our prefix at all so it rolls on from generation to generation”.
Mr Zweck says he wouldn’t be nearly as accomplished if it weren’t for his family.
“My wife Ros continues to be a great support to me over the years, handling all the registrations, calf rearing and book-keeping and my son Justin has taken on the role of cropping management and is keen on progressing into the future” says Gary.
Over the next 5 years, Gary and his family have big plans to invest in their newly built shade shed and are currently building infrastructure underneath which will incorporate a feed lane and compost loafing area.
“We look forward to the day when the cows can be shaded from the hot summer. We’ve got a fairly aggressive plan on the new shed and if we can handle it and get it done then our next step is to invest in robotic milking. I’m hoping that will be a chance to wind back my hours a bit” says Gary.
He says winning the Master Breeder for a second time means that he and his family are on track.
“All the hard work is paying off and we are seeing the results of improved genetics and production. It’s very pleasing to realise it’s achievable” says Mr Zweck.
Please join us in congratulating the Zweck family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.