An Australian Illawarra production record has been broken.
The record-breaker, South Australian cow, Glenbrook Dainty 10 EX91, comes from the 350-cow herd of Ian and Julie Mueller. They farm in partnership with their son Trent and his wife Emily at Murray Bridge.
Dainty 10 is the sole individual to set a new record in 2021 – among an established list of incumbent names – from performance herds in Queensland, northern NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
It is not the first time that Dainty 10 has toppled national records. It first drew attention to its exceptional work ethic when it set a butterfat record in 2019 as a junior four-year-old with 642 kilograms of milk fat.
Now, as a seven-year-old in its last completed lactation, it achieved her new Australian first by producing 747kg of butterfat in the mature age-group. When it was combined with the rest of its completed 305-day production it reads: 14,391 litres, 5.2 per cent 747kg fat, 3.2pc 456kg protein in 305 days.
Dainty 10 is not afforded any favours in a herd that is predominately Illawarra with 150 Holsteins and a handful of Jerseys. Glenbrook has long been synonymous with production and show Illawarras – winning champion Illawarra and premier exhibitor multiple times at the Royal Adelaide Show.
Ian grew up with Illawarras as his birthright. His parents and grandparents registered their first Illawarra in 1932, but it is the performance of this rich ruby-coloured breed that has assured their place in a commercial operation – that covers 1400 hectares spread across three different farms. The property with the dairy on it borders the Murray Bridge township on the northern side.
Dainty 10 is Ian’s favourite for two reasons. “She’s the best type and production cow in our herd, and we’re proud to have bred and to own her,” Ian said. “She has to go out and earn her production the same as any other cow in our herd, but that milkfat percentage really leverages her production. I’d like to have a lot more cows achieving what she’s achieving.”
He said there were some clear triggers that hinted at its production potential without seeing the numbers.
“She has tremendous width throughout,” Ian said. “She has a massive head and a massive width of rump, and that width goes right through the whole cow.
“The Dainty family, in general, have great udders, but it’s also that substance and capacity that really stands out in this family. They have room for a big motor in their chest, which allows them to take in a huge amount of fodder and to produce a lot of milk.”
Glenbrook operates a partial mixed ration system combined with grazing pasture. The cows are getting 4kg of wheat in the dairy, and they are also fed cereal silage, corn silage, cereal hay, vetch hay, potatoes and brewer’s grain.
Adelaide Show cancelled
Ian said Dainty 10 would have been their lead cow for the Royal Adelaide Show this past September, but COVID-19 put an end to that. It makes the production record a special acknowledgement in a strange year.
“She calved just right for the show,” Ian said. “It’s a bit disappointing for her from that aspect, but she’s doing what all cows should be doing quite comfortably at home…and that is producing milk.”
He said the cow’s grand-dam was a VG88-classified cow, who lived until it was 15 years old. He bought this family’s foundation cow when it was eight years old from the famous Llandovery herd of Tony and Elle Hayes, in northern Victoria.
Dainty 10’s sire is Glenbrook General, a proven homebred sire which has had a significant impact on the breed. There have been 142 of its daughters through the Glenbrook herd.
Blackwood Park dominates
Dainty 10 joins an elite group of production record holders. The majority (67pc) of the other cows on this honour board call the Blackwood Park herd of David and Karen Altmann home.
While this Murray Bridge herd is the only one of the record-holders milking three times a day on a total mixed ration, there is no taking away from its exceptional achievement over a succession of years – given that milking three times a day takes a special kind of commitment.
Between 2007 and 2021 Blackwood Park has broken – and still holds – 16 of the 24 national production records in either litres, milkfat or protein.
Blackwood Park has a rolling herd average (which includes its Holsteins) of more than 12,500 litres. More than 60 of those cows (Illawarra and Holstein) have broken through the 100,000-litre lifetime production threshold. Its Illawarra 305-day average is 10,400 litres.
Within those multiple national records is a Blackwood Park dam-and-daughter – which trace back to a third generation of national production record holders.
Blackwood Park Buttercup 221 was the former junior three-year-old national record (12,209 litres) and the former junior four-year-old national record (13,905 litres). It daughter Blackwood Park Buttercup 225 VG86 relieved it of both of them.
Buttercup 225, sired by Panorama Royal Treble, claimed (and still holds) the national junior three-year-old milkfat record (496kg) and 2013 junior four-year-old (litres) with 15,288 litres. It had a lifetime production (in six lactations) of 92,357 litres. It did this in 2188 lactating days – giving a lactation average of 42.2 litres a day.
Buttercup 225’s daughter, Blackwood Park Buttercup 232 (sired by Llandovery Verbs Viscount), then set its own cracking pace. It still holds the national production record for a senior milking yearling with 11,571 litres, 371kg protein and 452kg butterfat and the junior three-year-old record in litres with 15,063 litres and 452kg protein. In five lactations it produced 77,365 litres in 1698 lactating days (an average of 45.6 litres a day). It was also the intermediate Illawarra champion at the 2014 Adelaide Royal show. Its maternal brother, Blackwood Park Butternut, was marketed through AgriGene. Sadly, Buttercup 232’s career was cut short by a stifle injury.
Glenbrook equals Illawarras
Ian Mueller, who is the former federal president of the Illawarra Cattle Society of Australia, said the controlled addition of some Red European bloodlines along with some Red & White Holstein had taken the modern Australian Illawarra to a level that now sets an example for the rest of the world.
“I have no doubt that it is harder to breed an outstanding Illawarra in Australia than it is to breed an outstanding animal in any other dairy breed, because of that shortage of global genetics,” he said.
“Our society have never kept it a secret that when the world opened up to AI from country-to-country, if the Illawarras had continued to have been restricted to only Illawarra and Milking Shorthorn genetics, we wouldn’t ever have experienced the genetic gains and production increases that we have experienced over the last 30 years.
“That’s why our breed was very transparent about how we introduced and managed outside blood. We didn’t just do it, without acknowledging it.
“For example, introducing the (Red Carrier) Holstein sire, Glenafton Enhancer, through his maternal (half-cross) sons had a massive and positive impact on Illawarras as a whole.”
Illawarras modern and durable
He said Australian Illawarras are today an ideal modern and durable cow for any dairy farmer.
“These national production records show what our breed is capable of and it lifts everyone’s expectations,” he said.
“Australian dairy farmers have access to those genetics, and they can achieve these productions themselves.”
Source: Illawarra Cattle Society Of Australia