Current Bull Team: Maebull, Medallion, Southpole P, Loganx P and Truenorth PP
Important traits: Fertility, BPI, temperament, rump structure
First EX cow: Rockwood Park Rudolph Dreamgirl-ET EX90 2E
North-Western Victorian Breeders Graeme and Helen Collins of Glyncol Holsteins, along with their son Gerard have been awarded the Master Breeder.
Graeme and Helen who are both third generation dairy farmers who bought their first farm together in 1983, milking on the 73 ha property along the banks of the Loddon River, Newbridge, Victoria.
Back then it was an old-style walk through dairy.
A few years later the Collins family upgraded to a 20 a side herringbone dairy, milking every day during the two year-long conversion.
“It was a long slow process because Dad and my uncle built it themselves, digging out the pit and concreting it all while still running the farm full-time and shearing sheep,” Gerard said.
The stud operates from the same dairy shed today, supplying milk to the same factory in Bendigo since before the stud began.
In 2001 they began their stud, almost a year after a trip to a local Holstein on-farm first stage dispersal in Rochester where they bought eight cows.
Gerard said “we didn’t have any intention to have registered cows but after looking through the Glynyari catalogue, we became very interested".
He said the photos and pedigrees featured in the sale catalogue ‘inspired the family to begin the stud’.
“That’s how we got Glyncol; we took half of their name and combined it with Collins,” said Gerard.
The family kept the now 22 year-old catalogue. Two of the cow families bought at the sale have prominent descendants in their herd today.
Like many dairy farms, the stud has faced challenges over the years including high interest rates, no irrigation water allocation and weather extremes.
One of the starting challenges in their Master Breeder journey was breeding up through the appendix system.
Gerard said “back in the 80s Dad wasn’t interested in having stud cows. We bought ten Cha Hol calves and six cows and only one got a pedigree. The rest had to come up through the grading system”.
He said the Cha Hol lines have been one of the most important cow families in their herd.
Glyncol Holsteins selected their best cows, breeding up through the appendix system and buying in stud cows that had all their information in check.
Early on Gerard took interest in the breeding and genetics side of dairying, with the aim to memorise pedigrees inside-out.
“He can look at cows and recall off the top of his head the dam, great dams and even great-great dams,” Helen said.
Achieving the Master Breeder award has been a balancing task for the Glyncol stud as they had to pause classification services missing out on six and half years’ worth of points.
They resumed classification in October 2021 and the results were pleasing. “We got 49 VGs,” Gerard said.
He said classification was an important herd management tool they used from the very start, especially when production was lower.
In the last ten years Glyncol’s milk production significantly increased, receiving many production awards, putting them back on the Master Breeder path.
“We were very anxious to find out if we met the requirements,” Helen said.
While the Master Breeder wasn’t an accolade the Collins family actively pursued, it was always an aspiration.
“Now we can look back at the many great cows and cow families we’ve had in the past and feel the years of work have been worth something,” Helen said.
She said ‘breeding profitable cows with good longevity has kept them in business for a long time’ and the excess stock they bred created extra income during challenging times.
Graeme, Helen and Gerard said one of their most fulfilling moments was when Brian Leslie and Lee Hamilton complimented them on their breeding and the overall health and style of their cows last December in their first stage dispersal, where they sold a third of their herd in preparation to relinquish dairying.
“Winning the Master Breeder gives us recognition that we have been breeding good cows for many years,” Helen said.
Please join us in congratulating the Collins family on their outstanding achievement and contribution to the Holstein breed.