Mooramba Talent Rendell, Supreme Champion Bendigo Winter Fair and Sydney Royal 2015. Nick Flanagan in whites, Marcus Flanagan, Lawrie and grandsons.
Member: Flanagan Farms
Location: Finley NSW
How long have you been in the industry: 43 years
Farming generation: 3rd generation
Land size: 400 hectares (leases an additional 150 hectares)
Cows milked: approx. 700
Important cow families: Coconuts, Wendys, Cinderellas (all progeny of Rockwood Park Achilles Felicity) Hazels and Delights
Favourite bulls used: Picton Shottle, Ladino and Rich Row Mark Sam, Unix and Guthrie
Current bull team: Arrow, Lambda but it’s changing consistently with genomics
Important traits: functional, well-balanced, hard tops, good feet and legs and good udders
First EX cow: Wood Lawn Kai Wanda 17th
Lawrie Flanagan of Woodlawn Holsteins has been awarded the prestigious honour of being named two-time Master Breeder in his 43 years of dairying.
"It’s good to be a Master Breeder and it’s something we are very proud of” says Mr Flanagan.
As a third generation farmer and the eldest of 8 children, Lawrie grew up on a dairy in Girgarre, north of Shepparton.
“I was a little noisy red-faced kid that didn’t know much about anything but always loved milking cows” says Mr Flanagan.
He left school at the age of 16 to start his career and hasn’t ever looked back.
“All I wanted to do was milk cows. I left school on the 2nd December 1967 at 3.45pm and I was in the dairy by 4 o’clock” says Lawrie.
In 1980, they sold the family farm in Girgarre and Lawrie and wife Lynne bought 80 acres in Katandra where they milked 80 cows. Six years later, Lawrie and Lynne moved to a larger property in Katunga, milking 120 cows before moving to their current home in Finley in 1994 where they milk 700 cows.
“We are pretty proud to milk that many cows” says Lawrie.
In 1984, Lawrie travelled with his friend Daryl Brown touring farms in Canada and the USA. Mr Flanagan says at the time, he was producing a 5,000 to 6,000 litre milk average.
Lawrie states “the USA and Canada were producing 10,000 litres and I thought, how the heck have they done that?”
The knowledge Lawrie gained during his travels gave him strong motivation and knowhow to evolve and develop his own operation.
He says the high production farms in North America weren’t grazing their cows and many of them were using a TMR feeding system, which Flanagan Farms later adopted and now use year round. They are currently constructing a 700 cow freestyle facility to serve their feeding program. The cows are fed a balanced diet of cereals, corn and Lucerne and Lawrie identifies the TMR system as an essential element to his farm’s success.
Mr Flanagan says “you’ve got to find the opportunities. Now we average around 11, 000 litres and we have some cows milking 15,000”.
He states Flanagan Farms has predominantly focused on breeding balanced, functional cows that are productive and last longer.
“If your breeding program is sound, you’ll have no problem producing good cows consistently” says Lawrie.
He notes that his farm regularly registers, classifies and herd tests and says it is important for monitoring production, health traits and cell counts.
“It’s something you have to do. You need to build the picture. You can’t simply show a cow and say three generations back, she was a good cow. Show me the figures! That’s all part of the deal” says Lawrie.
He reveals 80% of his herd is in calf from sexed semen and highlights that it increases cash flow, viability and the capability to breed and improve the herd.
Mr Flanagan states “it’s a no brainer mate! If it doesn’t work for you, you’re not doing it properly.”
He highlights that marketing is extremely fundamental to the Woodlawn business model.
Lawrie says “we’re not afraid to sell cows and in our last on-farm sale in 2011, we sold 95 head with a $4,300 average and a top price of $16,500”.
Mr Flanagan wears many hats and also works as a stock agent for his very successful livestock selling company Flanagan Marketing Services (FMS), in which he operates with his son Nicholas, who is an auctioneer.
He explains that FMS has played a large part in keeping his family in the industry and has helped market Woodlawn cattle.
“To build a business and run the Gorbro Golden Opportunity which was the highest averaging sale ($7,500) in Australia last year, is very rewarding” says Lawrie.
Mr Flanagan states ‘it’s very important to give the younger generation involvement from an early age and his sons, Marcus and Nick have been heavily involved since they were teenagers. He says “their commitment allowed Woodlawn to develop a successful model”.
Lawrie plans to phase out his involvement in the short term, with sons Marcus and Nick continuing to take control of the businesses.
Mr Flanagan says “we aren’t looking to get out of dairy, we want to keep going”.
Please join us in congratulating the Flanagan family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.