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Following the golden pathway to success

VikingGoldenCross is leading Lauren and Jarrod Meade on a pathway to growth and success. They say VikingGoldenCross is a more structured crossbreeding system and is giving them a clear vision to the future.

Lauren and Jarrod farm just outside Cobden in south-west Victoria; they used cross-bred cows to build their herd and they are again expanding on the back of their best season on record.

They started on the farm nearly 16 years ago with 80 cows but realised they needed to grow to thrive. The progression was gradual but in the past two years favourable conditions have prompted another surge in numbers.

A better crossbreeding system

The Meades are now using VikingGoldenCross to mix the best of three breeds and to improve health traits needed for their hilly and wet farm.

Cross-bred cows were a cost-effective way for Lauren and Jarrod to grow their herd and a planned VikingGoldenCross breeding program is proving to be the best way to move ahead.

“We reared cross calves because they were cheaper to help build our herd,” Lauren said.

“To buy a cross calf was probably $50 but a Holstein calf was anywhere from $400 to $800. The crossed cows are just as good but there’s no export market for them. We wanted to build up the herd, not export, so they were ideal for us.”

They point to one calf purchased at Camperdown for $45 about seven years ago. “We brought it home, reared it up, got it in milk and from year two until selling her last year she was our top production cow,” Lauren said.

“She was plain brown, but she did her job and was a great milker and we have four of her progeny in the milking herd. She well and truly paid her way.”

A structure three-way to go

They dabbled in a three-way cross with Aussie Reds about 12 years ago and wanted to return to a more formal and properly planned breeding program.

“If we have a clear vision of what we want, it’s easier and the end result will be better,” Lauren said. “We researched different options and VikingGoldenCross gives us a clear pathway.”

They will keep a base of Holsteins, mainly for the export market, but Lauren and Jarrod see -VikingGoldenCross as the way forward and expect they will constitute the bulk of the milking herd.

The first VikingGoldenCross calves were born in February 2021 and Lauren and Jarrod are excited about the improvements they are achieving at the farm.

“We have steep hills, and they have a fair walk so they need good feet and legs, and it gets wet in winter, so they need mastitis resistance. These are traits VikingGoldenCross focuses on so it gives us a path to where we want to be.”

Keen to improve all areas

As part of the growth pattern, the Meades are adding to their normal autumn and spring calving. “We were drying cows off in December and had oodles of feed, so we bought cows in milk to calve in May,” Jarrod said.

The farm had been sitting around 180 cows before leasing adjoining land with two centre pivots. “Last year we went to 220 but we were going to make so much grass we went to 270 this year,” Jarrod added.

“In 16 years, this is the second time we’ve had a really good year but this time we have a good milk price to match it.”

Moderate-sized cows also fit the farm’s needs. “As an industry, we can’t milk 700 kilo cows that can’t get back into calf,” he said.

Satisfied with the service

VikingGenetics has helped Lauren and Jarrod to set up a breeding program.

 “They know what we want. Our sale rep. is a famer and he looked at our cows and said we have a good base, and he gave us names of farmers to talk to who have gone to VikingGoldenCross”

Their interest in VikingGoldenCross prompted Lauren to enter a VikingGenetics survey competition where she won 25 free straws of semen´s catalogue.

“we were super excited to win.”

“We’re waiting for the new bulls to come out to select what we like but it will be most likely Red for the Jersey-Friesian crosses to go three-way,” she said.

Facts of the farm:

Farm size: 265ha (150ha milking area)

Herd:  220 last year 270 this year

Average production litres per cow: 6500lt

Fat: 4.31%

Protein: 3.49%

Kg/MS: 504kg and aiming for 520 this year.