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Top Jerseys from a century old tradition

The Glennen family has been farming at Noorat for more than 100 years. Con and his wife Michelle are the current family custodians of the dairy business after Con came back to the farm in 1992 to help milk for a month and never left.
Con’s grandparents bought the original 32 ha farm and had 15 kids — the youngest of which was Con’s dad. Siblings Jack, Con and Bernadetta have lived on the property all their life and there is an extremely proud family history associated with the land.
The Glennen family also know a thing or two about cows, and certainly breeding good ones.
Their Jersey herd is currently sitting number two on the recently released April Australian Breeding Values herd list.
Both Con and Michelle are proud of their herd and have worked hard on the genetics to make it one of the top herds in the country, but as Con is quick to point out, he did start with a good base.
“We had a good Jersey herd back in 1992 and we have just worked at building it up over the years,” he said.
“We are a commercial herd and all our breeding decisions are built around the fact we are here to make milk.
“We have had a few bulls go into AI over the years, but nothing beats a milk cheque,” Con said with a laugh.
The family milk 400 split calving cows on 200 ha and also have 100 ha of out paddocks. Their breeding philosophy is quite simple.
We breed the best to the best and hope for the best,” Con said.
Although they both agree that great cows don’t always pass great genetics on, as was the case with Whitestar Konui 4916.
“She was a beautiful cow with fantastic production who produced two bulls into AI,” Michelle said.
“She never gave us a heifer until we used embryo transfer, but both those heifers never shined like their mum: there was only ever one Konui.”
The family base all their breeding decisions on data they have gained from years and years of herd testing. They were also one of the founding farms involved in the DataGene Ginfo project.
“Good cow data equals good cow decisions and a long history of data has been great for us,” Con said.
Their in-calf rate sits around 80 per cent for a nine-week joining period.
“I think that’s a pretty good result for a reasonable production herd that produces in excess of 600 kgs of milk solids each lactation,” Con said.
When it comes to joining, most of the herd is joined using conventional semen.
We will use sexed semen if the right bull comes along but we have had some mixed results over the years,” Con said.
While the business is very much into breeding heifers and milk, if a good bull comes along they certainly don’t let it go to waste.
In fact, over the past 30 years, they have had about 40 bulls under the Whitestar prefix find their way into AI, and 2019 is certainly proving to be one of the best years yet.
They currently have the top three bulls on the genomics BPI list: WhiteStar Douggan BPI 280, WhiteStar Publican BPI 273 and WhiteStar Dobson BPI 252.
Whitestar Valenblast is sitting in fifth with a BPI of 229. “We are very chuffed with that result,” Con said.
“We have never had that happen to us before and it is a credit to the whole team’s hard work.”
Currently Con and Michelle have two of their boys home, working on the farm. They have plans to increase herd numbers up to about 500 in the future.
“Our future here on the farm is looking pretty good but as for the dairy industry as a whole, I am not so sure,”
Con said. “I think there will be bigger farms in the future but less of them, still family owned, but operated under a corporate structure. There will always be a market of some sort for milk in Australia.”
And just like the many decades before, it will still be produced at the same beautiful little spot just outside Noorat by a herd of outstanding Jerseys and a member of the Glennen family.
At least, that’s the plan.

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