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Justin McLean


Justin McLean


Justin McLean

Gore

Northern Southland

 

Farm                                400 hectares effective     

Herd                                1060 Friesians cross

Production                         500+ms per cow

Farm system                       3 to 4

 

Justin McLean and his partner Morgan are contract milkers on a 280 hectare farm which has been in the McLean family for three decades, along with a 170 hectare runoff.


“Originally it was sheep and beef but my parents diversified into dairy grazing and, according to our farmer clients, did it pretty well so moving into dairying was the next logical step,” Justin said.


“I trained as an automotive engineer and came back to the farm when the decision was made to convert the home farm to dairying in 2012.


“The initial herd was made up with 450 crossbred and Jersey cows, which were New Zealand genetics, milked through a 54 bale rotary. Over the years numbers increased to the 680 we are currently milking.


“Two years ago my parents bought a 145 hectare dairy farm which my bother in law and sister manage, milking 380 cows through a 44 aside herringbone.


“In total we are milking 1060 cows. We winter all cows and young stock on the farms and grow most of our supplement, buying in some grain and PKE which is fed in-shed.


“We started off using New Zealand genetics but by 2016 were sick of heifers – which had been great on paper - coming in with weak constitutions and shocking udders, having to be culled in their first lactation so we made the decision to change to North American genetics.


“We are now in our seventh season 100% with US Genetics.


“Our initial goal was to move away from the crossbred/Jersey animal we had towards a moderately sized, strong Friesian with great udders. We are summer dry here, so wanted a cow whose production would hold up through a dry season.


“We found that World Wide Sires personnel were more knowledgeable and interested in the cows – rather than simply writing down numbers and selling whatever bulls come up, their focus was (and is) on identifying the best genetics to achieve your goals.


“They back themselves too. Each year all our heifers are objectively scored against a range of criteria and it is fascinating – and very gratifying – to see that the data behind each mating is borne out in the quality of each animal.


“We saw an improvement in the quality of calves in the first year. The difference in the quality of the calves was amazing compared to what we’d been getting. They were really solid, nice-looking, good sized calves not little frail things. And despite their size we seldom – if ever – have to assist a calving. Our empty rate is consistently around 10%.


“The calves grow on well and when the heifers come into the shed their udders fill the gap between their hind legs – they’re bred (and happy) to be milked. We’ve been very impressed with how quickly they settle into being milked.


“When your cows start out this good, you know they’re going to last.


“When we started out with World Wide Sires our production was 400kgms per cow. Albeit with some improvement in feed management, seven seasons on we now average 500 to 540kgms per cow.”

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