Member: Robert & Ruth Poole and Andrew & Claire Jenkins
Location: Yelverton (25kms south of Busselton W.A.)
Years been in industry: 20 years (Claire & Andrew)
Land size: 890ha
Cows milked: 800 peaked
Important cow families: Tuftie, Barbara & Sijgje (all have Star Brood & Production awards)
Favourite bull used: Glenafton Enhancer
Current Bull Team: Larson, Dreambig, Johnboy and Mecca P, Truxton &Capone
Important traits: high type, structurally sound, high producing and positive component animals
First EX cow: Yelverdale Tuftie 131
Robert and Ruth Poole (Yelverdale Holsteins, Yelverton ,WA) along with Andrew and Claire Jenkins (Valdana Holsteins, Denmark WA) are the latest members to be crowned Master Breeder.
Robert and Ruth have received the prestigious accolade for the Yelverdale enterprise now for the second time.
Andrew and Claire run a high-input high-output system, focusing on building soil health to run a productive pasture system, helping maintain a healthy high producing herd.
“It’s a balance system and everything is interlinked; if you have healthy soil, you’ll grow productive grass and the cows will be nutritionally balanced,” Claire said.
Over many years, effective planning and evaluation has played a major role in Yelverdale’s achievements, closely monitoring the benefit and costs associated with their strategy.
Their stud is arguably one of the most successful dairy farms in Western Australia, starting in 1976 with Claire’s parents Robert and Ruth Poole who both came from dairy backgrounds.
The Pooles began their stud with 120 cows bought from Rozendaal along with one bull, farming on 227ha in Yelverton, (25kms south of Busselton) WA.
The cows came with 25 years of herd recording which ultimately gave Robert and Ruth a racing head start.
The Pooles continued herd recording, increasing their herd to 440 cows and more than doubling their land to 486ha.
Robert and Ruth monitored their herd as an essential function of their business.
“If you look after your cows they’ll do the right thing by you,” they said.
They achieved a great deal in their dairying career, winning the Australian Dairy Farm Management Award and a Telstra Small Business award in 1998 for service to primary industry in the South West. Additionally they received the first Master Breeder accolade in 2003.
Robert and Ruth’s daughter Claire and their son-in-law Andrew, worked at Yelverdale Holsteins for four years from 2004 onwards before buying their own property in 2008, converting a beef farm back to dairy.
The farm was north of Denmark, WA, consisting of 272ha with a 60 stand rotary that was recommissioned to facilitate the milking of 250 Holsteins.
In 2014 Andrew and Claire moved back to Busselton, taking over the Yelverdale business, leasing the farm from Claire’s parents and running two dairy farms, peaking at 1100 cows.
They consolidated back to one farm, buying the Yelverdale herd over a period of time.
Today they milk 800 cows on 290ha milking platform plus 700ha of support land, producing 100 percent A2 milk, using only A2 sires within their breeding program.
“We have recently started genomically testing all heifer calves, also testing the A2 gene that is a prerequisite for A2 milk supply,” Claire said.
They use sexed semen on heifers and have undertaken a synchronised AI program with 3 matings a year, joining in autumn, spring and summer.
Claire and Andrew have also established the Valdana prefix and hope to maintain and improve the fully registered herd for the next generation.
“We aim to breed high type, structurally sound, high producing and positive component animals,” they said.
If milk prices prove to be sustainable, they would like to upgrade to a compost barn to make life easier during the summer and autumn.
Setting annual productivity goals for their dairy enterprise has been significant to their business success.
“We always strived to be pro-active in our decision making rather than re-active” they said.
Planning, monitoring and evaluating farm performance and farm management practices has allowed the stud to consistently increase productivity and profitability.
“If we don’t achieve our goals, we evaluate our management practices, identifying where things went wrong and making the necessary changes,” they said.
Their management strategies include regular budgets, computer run feeding by TMR and PMR, monitoring herd health and allowing them to keep track of mastitis, milk fever and reducing the calving spread by getting cows back in calf as soon as possible.
Yelverdale Holsteins have looked at multiple types of analysis, ranging from soil and pasture to help increase efficiency with fertilizer, to herd monitoring programs such as Dairy Farm Performance, developed by Agriculture WA.
Some analysis led to a shift in focus from maximizing production per cow to maximizing production per hectare in order to increase profits.
They embraced computer software for both herd and financial management, adopting a 50/ 50 split between TMR (over summer) and PMR (during the grazing period) systems to increase production per cow, per hectare; two key drivers of profit on the farm.
Both the Poole and the Jenkins families searched for ideas and skills beyond the farm gate, attending field days and courses locally, nationally and internationally.
This included discussion groups and forums where farmers would meet on a regular basis to discuss practices, ideas and topics in depth, helping them develop a better understanding of their business.
“We believe there’s no such thing as luck; it’s when preparation meets opportunity, so it helps to try and be prepared when opportunities arise,” Claire said.
Claire said winning the second Master Breeder award for Yelverdale Holsteins is ‘really exciting and rewarding’.
“We’re very grateful to have had such a solid genetic foundation to start with” Claire said.
“This award really ran parallel with our breeding program and we’re extremely happy to have continued on Mum and Dad’s 40-year legacy.”
Join us in congratulating the Poole and Jenkins families on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.