Important cow families: Wiabuna Buttercup's, Connie's, Jacobonia's, Heidi's, F cow family
Favourite bull used: Juniper Rotate Jed
Current Bull Team: Select, Undenied, Warrior, Solomon, Tattoo, Sidekick
Important traits: Rump structure and capacity
First EX cow: Glenunga Bookmaker Mandy (appendix 3)
Third generation South Australian farmers Andrew and Angela Koch of Glenunga Proprietors have been awarded Master Breeder for a second time.
“It’s really satisfying to fulfil what my parents started in their first 20 years of farming” says Mr Koch.
He highlights his parents Dennis and Annette put a lot of work into building the farm and created a solid foundation for his family to start with when they took over in 1990.
“My late father nurtured my interest a lot while he was around and I’m pleased my family has continued on the Master Breeder title in his honour” says Andrew.
Mr Koch has always enjoyed developing cow families and finds it both challenging and exciting to breed and improve the next generation of cows.
“We’ve always kept an eye out for cow families that are consistent in breeding good calves’ generation after generation and we’ve always got an eye out for the next emerging family” he says.
He mentions that classification was one of the key elements that helped drive his family’s success.
“Classification is a fantastic tool for developing your herd and I’ve always participated strongly in classifying because it’s a good independent benchmark of where your herd is at” says Andrew.
He explains that when it comes to cows, the import traits he looks for are rump structure and capacity.
On dry land without irrigation, his cows consume a lot of roughage and therefore need to be capacious.
“I think if you get the rump structure right, you correct a lot of other things. If the rump is good, the feet and legs will naturally be good and if you’ve got enough width in the rump, then you’ll have enough room for a capacious udder” says Andrew.
One of his favourite things about dairying is meeting people from different facets of the industry.
Andrew says “it’s never dull and if you get bored, it’s because you haven’t elevated yourself to get out there, mix and want to improve. Everyone’s got something you can learn from”.
As an active member of the dairy industry, Andrew has judged shows across Australia including on-farm challenges, the Perth Royal, NSW State Junior shows and the Burnie Show in Tasmania.
“It’s something I would have liked to have done more of over the years but I was a bit hamstrung because I lost my father fairly early in 1989 and I was thrown into holding the reigns here” says Mr Koch.
He has been involved in the dairying sector wherever possible, is a big supporter of sub-branches and subsequently became an influential leader in SA.
In 2010, Andrew became the Chair of the Barossa Mid North Dairy Cooperative whereby he, along with six other dairy farmers formed a collective bargaining group and arranged the March for Milk protest rally in Murray Bridge.
“It was really about holding the industry to account for what was happening. We were in a critical time where farmers literally couldn’t afford to pay their bills” says Andrew.
The March for Milk rally gained national media attention and shortly after Mr Koch was contacted about a milk deal with Woolworths, to source milk locally in each state.
“We were a good fit for them because we had the prominence and we were already registered as a collective bargaining group” say Mr Koch.
It took 18 months of hard slog to get the Woolworths deal over the line but in 2015, the deal was done. Andrew marks this as one of his largest achievements to date.
“That was my most proud moment. Not only did it help us out personally by stabilising our milk income, but it also helped another six farmers at the same time” says Andrew.
He reflects that his commitment and desire to improve has been central to his achievements.
Nowadays, the farm is a family affair with Andrew and Angela's three daughters helping out where they can.
“It’s lovely to receive the Master Breeder award but that’s not why we do what we do. We are committed and focused on improving the cows all the time and without that, we wouldn’t have accomplished what we have today” says Mr Koch.
Please join us in congratulating the Koch family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.