Jersey breeder Tony Luckin has A2A2 milk in his sights. Partly by planning and partly by instinct and luck he has been putting A2A2 bulls over his cows for a number of years.
He believes that this, combined with the fact that Jerseys seem to have a propensity for A2A2 milk, will stand him in good stead with Fonterra indicating a possible premium for this type of milk.
He is getting a bulk sample from his vat to determine what percentage of A2A2 cows are in his herd.
It is partly this result, combined with the knowing for sure which direction Fonterra plans to take, that will determine his next move – testing individual cows or animals coming into the herd etc.
It is just one example of how by looking ahead and predicting future trends Tony has managed to establish such a successful Jersey stud and dairy farm operation.
In June Tony will attend the World Jersey Conference saying it is a good opportunity to meet other breeders from around the world as well as view North American genetics, which he has been using extensively in his own breeding programme.
Breeding worth is not a focus for Luckin – in fact his current figures under this programme are a breeding worth of -6 and production worth of 23. The main trait he breeds for are good udders and “shed manners” or temperament.
“A lot of people in New Zealand breed for BW but this is a New Zealand based system and means little overseas. My figures don’t mean that my cows don’t produce well. By not focusing on BW and PW it gives me the choice of a much wider range of genetics,” he explains.
Tony has been focusing on milk volume, which has risen 800 litres since he started breeding for this around ten years ago to average 4500-4700 litres per cow. His goal is to maintain this and now focus on milk solids and fat.
Luckin and wife Maureen farm a 100ha total/82ha effective block with 230 Jersey cows at Leith Road, Okato, 29 kilometres south west of New Plymouth.
The farm was originally a rehabilitation farm Tony’s father obtained after returning from World War Two. It was his father that started Leithlea Stud.
Luckin has been involved in Jersey breeding most of his life, showing school calves as a youngster and working on the family farm straight out of school.
“I’m really interested in genetics because it is a real challenge. If anyone thinks it’s simple I’d like to meet them,” he says.
For the last two years the farm has had the highest pointed cow in the nationwide Semex NZ On- Farm Competition.
Tony has been involved in judging the competition in the past himself and says that visiting different farms was one of the highlights of his breeding career.
He is presently a youth ambassador for Jersey NZ and enjoys encouraging the next generation of Jersey breeders.
Tony, has been on the farm for nearly 73 years and is currently working towards taking a step back, something he admits is not easy to do.
Fortunately son Jay and Jay’s wife Kelly are working on the farm with the eventual goal that they will take over the operation one day. Tony says that the fresh perspective that the couple bring will benefit the overall operation.
“I’ve always enjoyed farming and trying out new things. I’ve got a passion for the land and the Jersey cow. It’s hard to step back but a different perspective is also good and healthy.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…