The Hortle family at the 2019 Panatana Sale, Moriarty, TAS
Member: Greenbanks Pty Ltd
Location: Moriarty, Tasmania
How long have you been in the industry: 50 years
Farming generation: 4th generation
Land size: approx. 90 hectares (milked land sized)
Cows milked: approx. 230
Important cow families: Mischief family, Sapphire family, Lilibet family, and Rosebud family.
Favourite bull used: Hannover Hills Inspiration
Important traits: temperament, legs and feet, udders, and type confirmation
First EX cow: Panatana Barron Mischief (appendix 3)
After being in the dairy industry for 50 years, Holstein Australia life members Ian and MaryAnne Hortle of Panatana Holsteins have accomplished their second Master Breeder award just in time for their dairy retirement.
Ian’s family have lived on their 90 hectare property since 1862 and is the fourth generation to have farmed on the property.
His father was milking cows before him and by the time Ian came home to work on the property, it had been divided in half as a result of a Will.
In 1992, Ian and MaryAnne bought the missing half of their property and pieced it back together again.
“That’s was when we were able to increase our herd size and employ staff” says MaryAnne.
Over the years, Ian and MaryAnne set out to breed better cows from appendix animals and improve traits and type by establishing a goal to increase the number of VG cows within their herd.
They started by breeding with an appendix 4 animal and bred up through their heard.
It took Panatana Holsteins approximately 10 years to naturally accomplish their first purebred cow and after 25 years of breeding, Ian was rewarded with his first excellent cow.
“It was a very gratifying achievement and we were very proud” says Ian.
Ian and MarryAnne were getting a higher percentage of VG cows in their herd and soon after the excellent cows started rolling in.
“That’s when we knew that Ian’s breeding goals were working” say MaryAnne.
Ian states “if you improve all the traits, the cows get perfect composition, confirmation and with that comes longevity and production”.
At Panatana Holsteins, registration and classification were instrumental to achieving Master Breeder status.
During his breeding career, Ian made sure that every calf born was registered, good breeding records were kept and in turn he credits classification as a useful tool that contributed to his success.
“I loved classification because I loved to see my breeding vision come to life. It was great to track my progress and see how the cows were improving” says Ian.
From day one through to the very end of his breeding career, Ian spent hours reading through semen catalogues and studied them carefully to help him with his selection.
“We used our own herd as a nucleus. We used bulls but we didn’t buy in cows for the last 15 to 20 years and centred our own cattle around building the herd” says Ian.
Mr Hortle revealed he only used Canadian semen and specified for the last 30 years, he used Semex and didn’t use any other companies.
He says his biggest career achievement was breeding through his own breeding system rather than using AI bulls.
Ian states “we could do the same job. Even bulls I bred; they classified EX and their daughters did too”.
MaryAnne and Ian explain that it took a long time before they finally applied for the Master Breeder status.
“We thought it was a more elite award than we would ever be eligible for” says Ian.
Even when it was suggested on numerous occasions by a Holstein classifier, it still took Mr and Mrs Hortle a long time before they considered applying for the award. Eventually they did.
MaryAnne says “we were about 30 years into the stud when one of the classifiers said to Ian ‘you must apply for the Master Breeder award’. The classifier had to remind us several times to do something about it.”
Today, thanks to the Hortle’s contribution to the Holstein breed, Panatana Holsteins have two Master Breeder awards under their belt. They have now exited the industry but still remain active members of the breed society.
“Here in Tassie I might be the first person to win two awards solely on my own, so I pretty proud of that achievement. Winning this last award before our sale was the icing on the cake” says Ian.
Please join us in congratulating the Hortle family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.