DEVELOPING a herd of equal stature has meant some careful breeding decisions for the Hill family.
The dairy farmers from South Riana in Tasmania inherited a cross-bred herd when they purchased their farm five years.
For the business, which includes Brodie his brother James, their parents Craig and Heather and worker Kwai, size does matter when it comes to limiting cow competition within the herd.
They use Holstein, Jersey and Swedish Red genetics selectively, in a bid to build a uniform herd, targeting about 500kg liveweight, and make breeding decisions based on individual cows.
“We are essentially a three-way-cross but with each breed we are chasing certain characteristics,” Brodie said.
He uses DataGene’s Good Bulls App to search for bulls with the traits he is looking for in each breed.
“For example, strength for Jerseys, stature and milk components. With Holsteins we quite frequently go for fertility, udders, feet and calving ease. With the Swedish Reds, at the moment, we are only using a bull called V.Foske, we are into the fourth year of using him.”
The Good Bulls App, which they have used since its introduction a few years ago, enables the Hills to make all their own breeding decisions. They set filters within the app based on certain traits and the app provides a list of bulls which fit their criteria.
Brodie said the app allows them to compare sires against each other on the same measure.
“Because we do it all ourselves, the main benefit of the actual app is that it pretty much puts all the bulls on the one platform,” he said. “If you go on the app, you get an unbiased opinion of what we want, especially with stature and components. When it is one platform you can see how they compare and with the app, the online information means it is one level playing field. We make our own selection based on our herd and what we want.”
“The app gives us more confidence knowing we are making the right selection. Also, when a bull company representative comes around, we can have a more informed conversation. For example, you can say ‘I’ve noticed a bull compares like this,’ it improves the conversation.”