Breeder/judge rates ayrshires favourite
Cows have been good to Selwyn Donald. They have seen him travel internationally (he’s New Zealand’s most travelled judge of any breed), passing his critical eye over cows from many countries. And he believes New Zealand has a lot to offer, particularly with the ayrshire breed.
“Despite the fact it makes up only a small percentage of the total number of cows here, New Zealand’s ayrshire population is large compared with a lot of other countries,” he says.
“This means we have a diverse base of ayrshire genetics in New Zealand and, in recent years, semen has been exported internationally. I certainly see more potential for this.
“We also breed a moderate-stature ayrshire with good capacity and components – all traits that are in demand overseas.”
Selwyn and his partner, Lorraine, farm on the outskirts of the Featherston, nestled under the Tararua Ranges.
Selwyn is the fourth generation to farm the Arran property. They milk 340 cows registered under the Arran prefix, and run one of New Zealand’s oldest ayrshire studs.
Selwyn says ayrshires are becoming popular to cross over other breeds as they give good protein-to-fat ratios and are easy-care cows with moderate milkflow.
He is responsible for the holstein and ayrshire selection of his family’s semen company which markets in New Zealand product from Genetic Australia, Cogent, Jetstream, ST Genetics, Semenzoo and OHG.
An Arran Stud bull, which has a number of daughters in Australia and the United States, is currently being marketed by Genetic Enterprises NZ. Selwyn says it was a real coup to get Arran genetics into major ayrshire studs.
He is also a livestock agent specialising in dairystud sales for Brian Robinson Livestock, and an accomplished auctioneer.
He admits that having the gift of the gab has proved handy – he was just 20 when he judged his first New Zealand competition, and four years later, he was judging overseas.
“The microphone doesn’t faze me and the bigger the crowd the better. I’ve tried to bring my own style and flair to it. But you are only as good as your last judging job; you can’t get complacent and think you know everything because you learn every day.”
Although ayrshires remain a firm favourite, Selwyn has holstein friesians, jerseys, two milking shorthorns and one brown swiss in his herd. And he has had success across the breeds.
In 2015 he won the two-year class of the World Red Cow Photo Competition with Arran Pring Beaujolias, of his two milking shorthorns. This year he won third prize in the three-year class of the ayrshire section.
The competition helps put New Zealand cows on the world stage, he says. Selwyn has exhibited at many shows around New Zealand and has gained many broad ribbons with all his breeds.
In 2016 he won ‘supreme of the breed’ at the NZ Dairy Event in both the ayrshire and combined breeds sections.
He is the only exhibitor during the nine uears of the Dairy Event to win the intermediate championship in the holstein, ayrshire, jersey and combined breeds (once with a milking shorthorn and once with a brown swiss) sections. He is adamant that ayrshires are his first love:
“The ayrshire breed is really going forward. There is good demand for ayrshire cattle in New Zealand, and more and more people in the stud industry have an ayrshire or two.
We are getting repeat business because they like ayrshires and the way they perform.”
He says he is excited to judge the Youth Show at the NZ Dairy Event 10 Year Celebration Show and is looking forward to judging the holstein, brown swiss and ayrshire sections at the 2018 United Kingdom Dairy Event.
“Every time I go overseas to judge I am aware I am representing New Zealand.
I feel proud not only for my family and myself, but that I’m representing this country.
I’ve grown up with ayrshires and I certainly have to thank them for what they’ve done for me. They’ve opened doors for me all over the world.”