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Recognition for a Master Breeder - Trevor Henry

Trevor Henry’s passion for breeding dairy cows was recently recognised with a Holstein Australia Master 
Breeders Award. But more importantly, his passion has infected his family, with his son and nephew sharing his commitment to breeding for continuous improvement. 

Mr Henry, of Tinamba, is a third-generation dairy farmer in Gippsland’s Macalister Irrigation District, Victoria. He 
began his career at 12 years old, helping his father choose and breed bulls. His parents bought him his first Holstein stud cow when he was 15 years old and he registered his stud prefix, Wilara. 

Fast forward 30 years and he is chairman of Genetics Australia (GA) and currently has three bulls in its top four 
Breed Performance Index statistics. He also runs the farm with son, Oakley, as an apprentice, and nephew, Damien, as assistant manager. Oakley and Damien are building equity, breeding their own registered cows in the herd. 

Trevor and Tracey Henry milk 450 to 500 Holstein cows off 365 ha (900 acres). Most of their farm is leased country, with a summer water right on 145 ha (360 acres) and year-round irrigation available on 110 ha (272 acres). Among the irrigated blocks, 13 ha (32 acres) is sown to maize and 12 ha (30 acres) to turnips. 
“We focus on producing silage from maize,” Mr Henry said. 

The number of milkers varies depending on seasonal conditions and cost of feed. Lactation ranges from 300 to 400 days. The herd is joined using artificial insemination and 10–15 cows are recipients of embryo transfers each year. 
“We use the income from the bulls registered with Genetics Australia to pay for ET,” Mr Henry said. 

He is particularly proud of the three bulls, out of three separate cow families, that are high ranking with GA. 
He credits his approach to patience and his spare time is spent studying genetics and breeding tables. 
“We’re quite fortunate to be able to build a really strong base over time,” Mr Henry said. 

“We’ve focused on breeding high-producing cow families, with secondary traits of mastitis resistance, fertility, feed 
saved and heat tolerance. 
“The heat tolerance breeding value will become more important. “Breeding is very fulfilling work. Cementing high daughter fertility and feed utilisation in families gives me confidence I’m producing a really high production value 
in the resulting calves.

”One of his oldest cow families is the P line. From the original cow, there are seven daughters and 120 descendants in the herd. 
“Four different lines of that family are producing bulls in the GA system,” Mr Henry said. 
He has had considerable success with another foundation cow family in the herd, Oman Jo. 
“Three of these lines are proving good bull mothers,” Mr Henry said. 

“One of the 2018 Jo heifer calves rates second in Australia on genomic testing.”

In 2017, he began genomically testing all heifer calves. While the business only needs about 110 heifers each year, an annual excess of 70 to 90 are sold as yearlings into the export market. 
“We’ve found the export heifers averaged 150 BPI. There’s no differential premium for what you get paid. For me, it’s about the personal rewards of breeding, knowing those heifers could go into Australian herds,” Mr Henry said.
“The ideal would be if the market was able to genomically test all animals at three months old. That gives the farmer 
opportunities to make better decisions.”

He now aims to genomically test all calves from performance-proven families within their first month. He has a resultant group of calves called The Specials that are housed separately and fed accordingly. 
Bull calves are kept or culled against dam performance. 

“We have brought prominent high-performing cow families into the herd, and 
our herd families consistently perform better,” Mr Henry said. 

“The strength of my cow families keeps being consistency in the progeny they’re breeding. That results from depth in the herd from years of breeding.
“Our ABV is about producing a cow that is the most efficient at converting feed into milk solids.”

Receiving the Holsteins Australia Master Breeders Award came out of left field and he still doesn’t know who nominated him. 
He received a telephone call to urge him to attend the HA AGM in Tasmania. 
“I was smack bang in the middle of joining and had just synchronised the heifers,” Mr Henry said. 

Minimum criteria to qualify for the award include being a member of Holsteins 
Australia for 20 years and the herd accruing 1075 breed points. Mr Henry has been a member in excess of 20 years and received 2110 points. 

“I just get on and get the cows milked. The Award recognised what I’m doing against some very good breeders,” 
Mr Henry said. 

Article courtsey of Crazycow. To find the full article, click here