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NHIA award recognises past Coop employees

At the recent National Herd Improvident Association [NHIA] annual dinner held during International Dairy Week at Shepparton two former VAB/GA employees were recognised for their contribution to the herd improvement industry.

A highlight of the dinner was the annual presentation of a Meritorious Service Award, recognising individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to Australian herd improvement.

Laurie Wells forged a reputation during his 26-year career as one of Australia’s foremost dairy cow experts and his advice on breeding and passion for dairy cattle was widely recognised. Sadly, Laurie passed away from Parkinson’s disease in 2007.  This year his contribution was recognised posthumously at the NHIA dinner with a Meritorious Service Award, and in further recognition the NHIA Board decided the award will from this year forward will be known as the “Laurie Wells Award”.

At the NHIA dinner, NHIA Board member and GA CEO Anthony Shelly gave an overview of Laurie’s career starting out as a farm hand working with the bulls. From there, Laurie was instrumental in establishing the Herd Evaluation Service [HES].  This was the industry’s first mating evaluation tool and Laurie was a key to its success and widespread adoption by farmers around Australia.

Laurie provided assessment of cows and mating advice, but some of his most important advice was about which cows to mate to beef and which cows to cull and for many commercial dairy farmers, it was the first time they really took real notice of their cows.  Cooperative shareholders eagerly awaited his annual assessment of new milking daughters and his photographic memory meant Laurie would walk through herds to find the daughters he had seen on the previous visit, most times pointing them out before the farmer had a chance to look at his herd test sheet.  Laurie was a mentor to many staff and we are delighted he has been recognised and that his name will live on with the annual NHIA award.

Another former employee Peter Williams along with Gerard Daniels from NuGenes were the first recipients of the Laurie Wells award at the 2020 dinner. Peter, now an Extension Office with DataGene worked at the Cooperative for 13 years during the eighties and early nineties as a Sire Analyst at a time when the industry was undergoing significant change with the opening of genetics, embryos and live bulls from the Northern Hemisphere.  Laurie and Peter worked closely during their careers at the Cooperative and there is no doubt Laurie would be most pleased that Peter was one of the first recipients of the award now named in his honour.

GA Chairman Trevor Henry said he spoke on behalf of all shareholders of the significant contribution all recipients have made to the HI industry and in particular to Laurie and Peter to the Cooperative during their respective careers.