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The Aussie Red Breed, the fastest growing Red Breed in Australia

The Australian Red Dairy Breed (ARDB) is currently the fastest growing dairy breed in Australia. Last year the number of herd recorded Aussie Red cows continued its trend upwards to 8993 cows, up from 7465 the previous year. Since its formation in 1986, the ARDB has quickly grown to become Australia’s 3rd largest dairy breed.

One of the reasons attributed to the growth of the ARDB is the use of high genetic merit AI bulls. Of the 8993 ARDB cows, 90% are sired by AI bulls.

A healthy balance of elite Australian and Scandinavian genetics, plus a successful local progeny test program have attracted farmers to use these genetics in their herds. In the red breed group, Aussie Red bulls now account for 18 of the top 20 bulls in the Good Bulls Guide rankings for profit.

Australia’s top red APR herd (82 units) is owned by Jan Raleigh from Timboon, Victoria. Jan milks 200 red cows and she is trying “to breed good cows that produce a lot of milk and who also have high components for fat and protein with good mastitis resistance.” This is all measured by the APR, and Jan selects her bulls from the Good Bulls Guide. Jan selects the highest APR bulls with less than 6% Holstein content. “I use a team of Australian Proven Bulls and International Proven Bulls (mainly Swedish Red) to diversify the genetics.”

Jan was just starting to wind back operations 2 years ago, reducing her milking frequency to once a day. However, that all changed 12 months ago with the addition of a young share farmer, Phillip Stasiw, to her business and it has given her a renewed enthusiasm for the industry. Jan has just supplied her first progeny test bull into Genetics Australia’s Horizon program. The dam of this bull is ranked in Australia’s top 2% of APR cows. Jan’s story has also contributed to one of this year’s top selling books, “Women of the Land.” 

“In the Red Breed Group, Aussie Red bulls now account for 18 of the top 20 bulls in the Good Bulls Guide rankings for profit” Source: ADHIS Aug12 GBG            
          

Australia’s top red ASI herd (43 units) is owned by the Graham family from Nowra, NSW. Father and son team, Ron and Sam, milk 400 red cows. Their goal is to breed cows with good type, high production and good health traits.  Sam says, “I definitely select bulls from the top profit group in the Good Bulls Guide. We have used the current top 3 Australian Proven Bulls and top 4 International Proven Bulls in our breeding program. These bulls are also being used to sire our young bulls which are being selected for progeny test programs.”  Ron and Sam also select from the top mastitis resistance and type bulls available in the guide. “We are breeding the best cows possible to ensure we continue to receive bonus’ for milk quality and we select bulls with good mammary ratings, as the cows are averaging over 8 500 litres per year and walking long distances to the paddocks, so we want udders that will last.”   

Sam has set up a website for their Beaulands herd and the most popular page on the website is titled “What’s in the tank”. Sam says, “Everyone used to ask us which bulls we were using, so I decided to list all the bulls in our tank on our website, a bit like a blog, so that anyone could have a look at what bulls we are using and why we are selecting those particular bulls. I have been surprised it has been so popular, but I suppose it is always nice to know how other farmers operate.” 

Another father and son team, Sieghard and Terry Blasche from Casino, NSW, milk 200 red cows. Their herd was acknowledged by the ARDB earlier this year for having the greatest genetic gain over the past 12 months, as measured by the improvement in their herds average APR, against all the other herds in the Aussie Red Breed.

Whilst being forced out of the industry for 2 years during deregulation in early 2000, the Blanche’s are quickly reintroducing top genetics into their young herd. Terry selects the bulls from the Good Bulls Guide that are listed in the most categories. “Profit, type, production, longevity and mastitis resistance are all paramount to my breeding goals, and the guide makes it easier to find those bulls” says Terry. Their aim is to breed top cattle through responsible, sustainable farming practices to improve the future viability of their property for future generations.

Sam Graheme

Liz Harfull and Jan Raleigh

*All figures supplied courtesy of ADHIS