Thursday, 02 November 2023 11:55

Good things come in small packages

Written by  Anne Boswell
From left: Kate, Gregory, Adele, Mackenzie and Bryn Woolley. From left: Kate, Gregory, Adele, Mackenzie and Bryn Woolley.

They say that good things come in small packages – and the modest but mighty Waiview Stud in Marlborough is certainly punching above its weight.

With 60 purebred, registered Holstein Friesians of notable breeding, excellent production, and decoration in the show arena, Waiview is small but perfectly formed.

Owned by Gregory and Adele Woolley, and children Bryn and Mackenzie (19) and Kate (16), the farm was first established in 1955 by Gregory’s father Graeme and grandfather Richard.

The farm was first leased, then purchased in 1961. The original cattle were sourced from Canterbury – mainly Elmwood, Pinevale and Pitcairns Holstein Friesian studs - with the herd becoming fully pedigree in 1968.

The herd was successful; it became the first in Marlborough to do over 500lb fat/cow, in 1963.

Today, the milking platform makes up 22ha of the 132ha property. The rest of the property is split between 50ha of pine trees and 60ha on which they run sheep, young stock and rear bull calves.

The 60 purebred, 100 percent recorded cows produce 550 kgMS/cow. The Woolleys aim for a fat content of over 4% and protein of over 3.6%; this has been reflected in them taking out the regional title of the Holstein Friesian Nutritech Performance Awards for three years running, meaning their herd is the highest dollar earning Holstein Friesian herd in the Nelson/Marlborough/ Golden Bay area.

Gregory supplements their diet year-round with a combination of molasses and lucerne baleage made on farm, and dairy pellets are fed until the end of February.

Both lambing and calving is planned for early August, with calving underway on August 1; all heifers are reared until R2, and around 15 percent are kept as replacements.

“We rear all calves, and all bull calves,” Gregory says. “Depending on the season some may be sold as yearlings and the rest taken through to processing at 18-19 months.

“It is important to us that all animals are utilised, especially with the new Fonterra regulations coming in.”

Adele, who is from Fairlie originally, rears all calves and helps with milking when possible, on top of family responsibilities.

Mating is mostly AI over nine weeks, before tailing off with a bull.

Gregory says he aims for balanced breeding, across both type and production. The main aim is to breed a cow that is enjoyable to milk; that means a cow with good temperament with good milking speed, delivering both on milk volume and components.

“Udders in terms of capacity are important, as are legs,” he says.

“The dairy platform is all flat but the cows do have to cross two roads, and the furthest paddocks from the shed are one kilometre away.”

To keep scope in their genetic pool, the Woolleys source their bull semen from North America and Canada.

“There’s more range in type traits compared to New Zealand,” Gregory says. “Bulls we have used with good success include Val-Bisson Doorman, Crackholm Fever, Mr GBM Dauntless-ET and Gillette Windbrook; they are probably the main staples.

“Some young stock coming on are by Jeffrey Chamonix ET, Claynook Barolo SG, Westcoast Redcarpet, Westcoast Perseus and Westcoast Alcove.”

High Performers

There are several high-performing cows in the herd, particularly from the ‘I’ family.

“We’ve got quite a large population of the ‘I’ family, a long-standing family from the original herd,” Gregory Woolley says.

“Waiview Windbrook Ice EX3, who is now 10, did her best production as a six-year-old with 727 kgMS. She placed first in the 2023 HFNZ-Semex On-Farm Regional Competition Veteran Cow class.”

Another successful Waiview cow family, the ‘C’ family, originated from Gregory’s first cow purchased in 1992 – Delorose Jed Cherie EX3, by Tahora Ultimate Jed and purchased from VQ Sutton & Sons in Nelson.

“Eight-year-old Waiview Windbrook Cheeky EX2 does alright production - her best production was 710 kgMS as a five-year-old,” Gregory says. “She was the 2020 HFNZ-Semex On-Farm National Competition four-year-old winner.”

“Six-year-old Waiview Dauntless Cloe EX2 placed sixth in the 2022 HFNZ-Semex On-Farm National Competition in the five-year-old class. She is out of the same cow as Cheeky, Waiview Idol Chik EX.

“Waiview Dauntless Cloe EX2’s best production so far was 650kgMS as a four-year-old.”

The Windbrook cows in particular have seen great show success, in both local shows and the HFNZSemex On-Farm Competition.

In the 2023 HFNZ-Semex On Farm Regional Competition Waiview Mafia Iceblock VG89 placed second in the three-year-old class; Waiview Doorman Idella VG88 placed second in the four-year-old class; Waiview Windbrook Cheeky EX2 placed first in the Mature Cow class and Waiview Windbrook Ice EX3 placed first in the Veteran Cow class.

Gregory says they like to attend local shows in person, when time permits.

“We only have one show locally – the Marlborough A&P Show - which is back for the second time in a while after M.bovis and Covid,” he says. “The Holstein Friesian South Island Champs will be there this year, so that will be exciting.”

Gregory says the Holstein Friesian breed has longevity and permanence as one of the most reliable dairy breeds. “They’re high milk, high protein animals with the biggest genetic pool around, so you have extensive choice in terms of the traits you are looking for,” he says.

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