The Silhouette herd was started in 1960 by Richards parents when they moved from a small farm at Gunbower Island. Some stock was bought with them with extras sourced from local farms, sales and studs over several years. A.I. was introduced in 1971. Within a few years the herd was closed and the only replacements introduced to the herd were bred on farm until 1989. The herd was unregistered but in 1989 eight registered cows were purchased. Shortly after, the Genetic Recovery system was put in place and the majority of the herd was entered. As so many years of A.I. breeding had already occurred many of the cows had several generations of history recorded immediately. In 1987 North American genetics were introduced.
Progeny Test bulls were first used in 1980 and have been used continually since then.
This is one of our first PT daughters by KROY. (Kooroo Favourite Royal) Who in her 10 years produced 6 seasons over 6000 litres Ė aged 7years 7229lt 343f 268p 139PI (no bale feeding)
Her daughter X Lester who topped the herd in multiple seasons.
A modern day descendent by Jace. (1st lac)
This season we have 3 Larfalot heifers, including
Marie 9 who won the PT class of the NDJB On Farm Challenge.
We see progeny testing as a way for farmers to help guarantee the future of their breed and the Australian Jersey in particular. We currently use around 50% Progeny Test semen, the balance is mostly Australian bred bulls, but selectively use bulls from other countries as well. We use PT over all levels of cows not just the tail enders, our rule of thumb is if a cow had an AI heifer calf by a proven bull this season she is joined to PT for the next season. This way we often get PT daughters by new graduate bulls from good family lines like Mare 9 who is out of an Armada X Khan X Lester X Brass X Hi X Rose and has produced 3318 5.27%f 175f 3.77%p 125p 117PI 187days cont.
We have been fortunate enough to have several bulls go into Progeny Test that have been from many generations of cows bred on this farm, the most successful is Mediator, who debuted at number one on the APR list and after several years now sits at number 31. Some other bulls we have bred are Exceptional, Midway, Xfile, Lustre, Lexen, Lucifer, Funnyman, Musicman, Dairyking, Martinet, Explosive, Copperfield (who sat at number one milk bull for many years).
Daughter of Xfile
Unfortunately some have not had sufficient daughter numbers for publication.
For several years we have had more bulls than any other stud in the top 200 publishable list.
Since the inception of the cow ABVís we have been in the top 2% of herds, often in the top 3.
Daughter of Exceptional
Our aim when breeding is to produce good temperament, productive, functional type cows that can produce without fuss or fancy feeding.
Like every other dairy farm in Northern Victoria, we have battled drought conditions for the last 10 seasons or so. This has made life extremely difficult at times with huge amounts of feed having to be bought onto the farm each season, hoping to survive to the next spring in the hope of real rainfall. Maybe this spring!
We have also attempted to create a better work environment by purchasing a second farm with a much better dairy than the old farm giving us the chance to expand the herd in an attempt to get ahead. Of course the drought continued and sharefarmers move on. We now find ourselves managing two properties and still unable to grow enough feed to satisfy the milking herd, wondering if it is all worth it.... Maybe this spring will be 'normal'