Gilbert, Carol, Kevin and Beth DeGroot
Gilbert, Carol, Kevin and Beth DeGroot. Photo above of Kevin and Beth.
Farm 307 hectare milking platform
Herd 398 cows, 75% Holstein with the balance Jersey
Farm system System 3
Kevin and Beth DeGroot are herd managers on the family farm at Matakohe in New Zealand’s Northland.
“The original herd was put together by my grandfather” Kevin says. “and my parents took over the herd, moving from Opotiki to this farm in 2005.
“The family was originally based in the Opotiki region but we moved to Northland around 2005.
“Going back the herd was mostly Friesian but I’ve encouraged my parents to introduce more Jerseys because they handle the (often extreme) Northland conditions really well.
“The origin of the herd was New Zealand genetics but we weren’t happy with the size and production of the cows. We wanted to put size and strength back into the cows and started looking around.
“My parents were always open to using other genetics. They had dabbled with introducing other breeds into the herd and so when I showed them a catalogue from World Wide Sires they were interested in knowing what a wider genetic base could do for the herd.
“That interest was cemented after they went to the United States and realised you could pretty-much tailor the genetics to your specific needs. Like a lot of Kiwis they’d been concerned that North American genetics would be extreme, but this was answered when they saw moderately sized cows – Holstein and Jersey – producing extremely well under a variety of farming systems in America.
“We’ve been using World Wide Sires over the entire herd for six years and are really pleased with what we’re getting. The cows are awesome. Great temperament (you can walk up to them in the paddock) and basically they just walk into the shed, milk and go out again. They calve easily, get in calf again and just do what they need to do. Couldn’t be happier.
“We select moderate sires for the Holsteins, and larger Jerseys to add stature and capacity to that segment of the herd.
“The traits we’re focusing on now are fertility and production and we’re also dabbling with polled bulls – provided it doesn’t compromise production.”