Awards keep flowing for avid breeder

Awards keep flowing for avid breeder
PHOTOS: Raymac Justice Esonny (above left) and Array Manifold Misty.

Holstein friesian breeder Richard Ray is quietly pleased about the performance of the herd he manages, but acknowledges there is always room to do better.Richard manages his parent’s Stephen and Judith Ray’s 200 hectare farm at Clydevale, South Otago, where there has been a focus on nutrition, pasture management and careful genetic selection.The farm was converted in 1999, is supported by a nearby block of 150ha and milks 460 cows through a conventional 38 a-side herringbone shed.
Last year’s annual production of 238,000kgMS means each cow on average is producing just on 95% of its body weight, an amount which represents a steady upward increase over several years.Four seasons ago the Ray’s engaged nutritionist and farm management specialist Howard de Clerk to fine tune the herd’s diet in what Richard describes as a moderate input system.
This includes four kilograms of barley fed daily, summer turnips, silage in the shoulders of the seasons and whole-crop silage and grass during winter. Most cows are wintered in two Herd Homes which are also used for calving. This has made a big difference in reducing pasture damage, especially on the run-off.
“We were having to rotate paddocks quite quickly and throughout the season we have been able to put the cows under cover during wet days and nights.”“It’s much easier calving in them. It takes a lot less time to get calves out, it’s really quiet.”Richard has a keen interest in breeding and is a member of the New Zealand Holstein Friesian Association.
He is gradually building up his own herd which comprises 100 milking cows included in the main herd, plus 38 yearlings and 40 calves.He aims to increase his stock to half the total herd number through natural calving and embryonic transfer. All cows are artificially inseminated.
The stud name of Richard’s herd is Array and his parents herd Raymac. Top of the list in terms of genetics is to breed a “really capacious” cow, large and strong with a lot of room between the front legs for a large heart and lungs, but not too tall “If you’ve got a big heart and lungs you are more efficient; you can use your energy better.”
Along with good udders, Richard also looks for favourable rump angle and width for ease of calving.He agrees that, on average, friesian pin bones have become too high and never chooses from bulls with this trait.
In order to get what he wants he does not limit genetics to being supplied from one company.These decisions are obviously paying off as a two year-old heifer Array Ssire (Supersire) Estephine-ET VG85 won this year’s national 2019 Broomfield Senior Youth Heifer competition.
The Holstein Friesian New Zealand award is for the two-year-old heifer with the highest overall points, with points awarded for traits other than production, protein BV (breeding values) and heifer ownership.
“I was pretty happy, it’s a really good cow family so it’s nice to get a bit of reward for them. It’s a brilliant cow.”Richard also won the Broomfield award last year, with a full sister to this year’s winner.
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