Important traits to consider in herd: production, good back, legs and feet, mastitis, well attached udders with texture and P placement
First excellent cow: Kevindale Enhancer Marjory
We head to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland to meet one of our new Master Breeders, 5th generation dairy farmer Kelvin Cochrane who farms the same land his parents and grandparents farmed before him at Kandanga, Wide Bay.
It has been a lifelong goal of Kelvin’s to win the Master Breeder award and he remembers the first time it entered his mind.
“I distinctly recall in the early 2000s, I was at a youth camp Daniel Homes was running and he was telling the group about it. I remember it as clear as day. I thought there was no way our herd could ever achieve a Master Breeder status” says Kelvin.
He says “the more we classified cows, the more I thought it could be possible”.
In July of 2013, Kelvin and his wife leased his parent’s smaller property and started their own farm with 170 cows.
In 2018, his parents downsized and Kelvin and his wife bought the original property he was raised on, taking on a herd of 300 cows.
He states the foundation herd that his Parents John and Margaret built in his 60 years of farming, was ‘extremely valuable’.
“You really need to start with a foundation of solid cow families. The ones we had, were the cornerstone of our breeding program that helped us achieve this award” says Kelvin.
He says another major contributing factor to winning his Master Breeder status is the longevity of his cows.
“The fact that our cows have lasted so long and are productive in the herd until they are 7 to 10 years of age, is another aspect that really helped us reach our goal” says Mr Cochrane.
At Kevindale Holsteins, the Cochrane family do not have a huge production herd and they believe this helps them achieve VG classification when their cows become mature.
“It helps when it comes to classification, because even if they weren’t particularly great cows when they were young, they are still kicking round at 10 years old” says Kelvin.
Their breeding objective is to produce long-lasting, productive cows and Kelvin freely admits that at times it has been a struggle.
“When de-regulation hit in 2000, the industry suffered traumatically and like a lot of other dairy farmers, we sent a lot of animals for export. There was a big hole left by the registered heifers we sold which would never get classified or have lactations recorded “says Kelvin.
At that time, Kelvin’s parents stepped back from breeding due to time constraints and Kelvin took over the breeding responsibilities.
In February 2007, the Cochrane family faced a devastating hardship that forced them to sell their property and exit the dairy industry.
The state government bought their property in a huge buyout scheme to turn the area into a colossal dam to feed Brisbane.
At the time, Kevindale Holsteins had approximately 1,169 cows.
“It was more than heartbreaking” says John.
Three years later in 2010, the state government decided to cancel the dam proposal and John and Margaret managed to buy back the family land.
Together they managed to rebuild their farm and today they share a much happier outcome.
Kelvin’s parents John and Margaret own and run a milk processing plant. John is also an auctioneer specialising in dairy clearance sales and Kelvin continues dairying with a herd of 400 cows.
John says “I never dreamt of getting this sort of award and for Kelvin to put his time to it, along with his beautiful and supportive wife Ronnie, is a massive achievement”.
“It’s a little bit indescribable and I find it hard to fathom. We’ve had amazing breeders in our area and when I think about all the studs that have become Master Breeders and the fact that we’ve reached this point; it’s kind of unbelievable” says Kelvin.
Please join us in congratulating the Cochrane family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.