Tim reveres ‘great encourager’
Tim Barclay has been passionate about the holstein-friesian breed for all of his 50 years—a passion stemming from his maternal greatgrandfather and shared with past, present and emerging generations of the Barclay family.
It has forged a bond between uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews.
The annual round of A & P shows and other events provides fertile ground for family reunions. The rewards are there too.
Proof enough that the holsteins from Tim’s Okawa Stud, near Te Awamutu, match what the judges are looking for.
“We’ve been lucky enough to get pretty good results,” Tim says.
“We don’t always win, but we’re normally competitive.”
Tim’s grandfather, Merton Leslie—farmer, friesian breeder and a great mentor— helped shape Tim’s views of the world and what constituted a good milking cow.
“He was a great encourager. He never put you down, but he did challenge you, made you think.
He didn’t go along with the old-timers who would talk about the good ol’ times.
He’d say the old times were terrible, the good times are now, and tomorrow there will be an opportunity to improve.”
Sage advice for a positive thinker like young Tim Barclay.
As a boy of 13, Tim helped his mother, Barbara Weld, on the farm where she was sharemillking.
That turned into working for wages when he was 16 and later enabled him to rear his own holstein calves.
Over 30 years Tim went from contract milking to sharemilking, to buying into equity management before he and wife Jo bought their 74-hectare farm 14 years ago.
Tim milks 180 pedigree holsteins through a 16-a-side herringbone and has totalled 80,000 kilograms of milksolids over the last couple of seasons.
With an improved payout this year, he’s hoping to slide up to 90,000kg.
While not a supporter of the breeding worth (BW) index, Tim’s very clear on what a top milkproducing cow looks like.
“I think there’s a misconception that show cows are not commercial cows—that the only use they have is for showing,” he says.
“But in our experience that is not the case. What we are finding is the cows that do well at the shows are also our best commercial cows.”
He cites the case of 14-year-old Okawa Legend Shelly, one of the farm’s top producers and winner of many show ribbons. “She’s just calved for the 11th time.
While her BW is extremely low, in her lifetime she has produced 7052kgMS.
“I think she’s a pretty profitable cow and made us a lot of money. We’ve also sold three of her daughters – two for $6000 each, the other for $5000.”
Tim makes the point that under the BW system Shelly would have been on the bobby-calf truck when she was born.
The Okawa Stud breeds for traits that will enable cows to produce a lot of milk for a long time, he says.
Their breeding objectives are strong legs and feet to walk long distances if need be, a wide chest so that they have space inside for a large heart and lungs, and big spring of ribs so that they can eat lots of grass.
Tim talks of the importance of the udders.
“The udder attachment, especially the rear udder, has to be very high and wide.
When the cow walks back to the shed to give milk, her udder is full. We want her to be carrying that milk as high as possible so that when she is walking, she is not kicking her udder.”
However, Tim accepts he doesn’t always get it right : “I get a lot of motivation from young people who are keen and interested in cows. I find it good listening to young farmers, bouncing ideas off them and improving on what we have.”
Perhaps that’s a legacy of his grandfather’s philosophy.