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Genetic Progress Report case study: Paul & Lisa Mumford

01/08/13

Paul Mumford (Gelbeado Park) was in for a pleasant surprise when he saw his herd’s latest Genetic Progress Report: he’d made a rapid rate of gain in the herd’s genetic merit for profit, type, fat and protein.

Paul and his wife, Lisa, dairy at Yarram in Gippsland Victoria with their children, Jess, Chloe and Bryce. In the coming season the split calving herd will peak at 450 cows. Last year’s 305-day average production was 6398L with 253kg protein and 330kg fat. The feeding system is pasture based with about 1.3t concentrate per cow each year fed in the dairy plus distillers syrup.

Paul says he’s always keen to increase production, but only if it is profitable.

“I’m just as happy if we increase fat and protein but not milk volume because that means more value from less milk,” he said.

When it comes to breeding Paul says he wants everything.

“I’m looking for the most efficient cows possible so I want high production but I also want high fat, high protein and high type.”

And amazingly, he is achieving just that. The herd’s Genetic Progress Report indicates the bulls selected over past 10 years have produced Jersey cows with genetic trends that have improved profit, production, overall type, longevity, fertility and mastitis resistance.

The report also shows sharp increases in the herd’s Australian Profit Ranking (APR), overall type, fat and protein since about 2008.

Paul puts these rapid gains down to placing higher value on the APR and Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) in recent years.

“I became involved in one of Jersey Australia’s committees which gave me a much better understanding of how the Australian system works. I realised that the APR and ABVs are the best way to identify bulls whose daughters will perform well under Australian conditions,” he said.

Paul has always placed a high priority on type.

“Our furthest paddock is 3km away so we need cows with good feet and legs.”

His Genetic Progress Report shows that it’s possible to improve type, production and components simultaneously. And his system is surprisingly simple.

“We don’t limit ourselves to a single genetics company. But we do tend to limit ourselves to sires with high APRs. Then we look at their ranking for the traits we want to improve.”

Paul says the Good Bulls Guide makes the process very easy.

“I know that any bull listed in the Good Bulls Guide is a good bull. So I scan the Jersey lists for bulls that feature in multiple lists, especially profit and overall type. It doesn’t take long to identify the stand out bulls.”

Paul is very encouraged that the herd’s latest Genetic Progress Report confirms his breeding decisions are achieving his objectives. The report will also influence his future decisions.

“Although we’ve made steady improvements in mastitis resistance and fertility, our herd is tracking closely with the national average for these traits. Now that we can track progress with these traits we might start paying a bit more attention to them when selecting sires. But type and profit will continue to be our highest priorities.”

Breeding program

The entire milking herd is joined to AI with most heifers mated naturally.

In the past Paul has used 20-30% progeny test bulls but in recent years he’s leaned more towards young genomic sires. The amount of embryo transfers varies from year to year.

“We have done a bit more ET work this year as we are preparing for our first a sale in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing the stud.”

Paul expects genomic testing of cows to play an increasing role in his breeding program. He participated in the 'Jernomics' project, having 250 cows tested.

“The results were very interesting as the genomic values for many of our cows were higher than expected. It is still early days for cow genomic testing but I can see a couple of applications for our herd in the future, such as identifying elite cows to flush,” he said.

For more information on the Genetic Progress Report contact ADHIS on abv@adhis.com.au or phone 03 86 214240.