Well-known Western Australian Guernsey breeders Colin and Elda Gilbert transported 25 heifers and one young bull from their North Dandalup farm to the Rochester, Vic, showgrounds to stage a world record-breaking sale in November.
The large crowd of breed enthusiasts were most complimentary of the outstanding quality and presentation of the offering that was backed up by excellent pedigrees of high production and classification.
The 25 heifers sold to average $9260, a new world record average price for a Guernsey sale.
The sale top of $16,500, a new national breed record for an unjoined heifer, was Gilbert Milos Haiti, an extremely correct 13-month-old daughter of Gilbert Haiti, VG88, with records to 366 kilograms protein and 545 kilograms fat. This superb heifer was bought by MB Daley Pty Ltd, Millaa View Farms, Millaa Millaa, North Qld. The same buyer also selected the classy yearling Gilbert Milos Alexia, bred from a VG Judgment dam with 378kg fat, at $10,000.
Second top lot at $13,000 was Gilbert Milos Pricilla a 16-month-old heifer from a fifth-generation EX and VG Legend dam with 347kg fat. It was bought by M&P Gray, Rollands Plains, NSW.
Third high of $12,000 was paid by Sarah Carver, Tallangatta Valley, Vic, for the joined heifer Gilbert Sigfrieds Mildew backed by the noted Brookleigh ‘M’ family. This buyer selected several top lots throughout the sale.
Next high of $11,000 was reached four times. Dorrigo, NSW, breeders M & J Moore selected the twin seven-month-old heifers Gilbert Milos Maya and Macy, two superb type calves, at $11,000 each.
AB & DL White, Alberton, Vic selected Gilbert Milos Reggie, backed by high production index dams, at $11,000 while Tony Lenehan, Princetown, Vic also paid $11,000 for Gilbert Sigfrieds Helen 3, a daughter of a VG 88 Prada dam with 439kg fat.
Sean Tomkins, Croone, NSW, selected Gilbert Milos Haitsbury, an autumn-calving heifer of exceptional type at $10,000. Also at $10,000 was Gilbert Milos Gloria, a stylish yearling heifer selling to A Crawford, Numbaa, NSW.
The large crowd on site along with more than 170 bidders and viewers online via the Elite Livestock Auctions platform bid strongly throughout the sale.
Selling agents Dairy Livestock Services reported buyers were from Queensland, many parts of NSW and Victoria along with Tasmania, South Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Sale cattle were presented by Andy Cullen, Darby Norris and a great crew.
Gilbert decision pays dividends
The Gilberts normally milk 50 Guernseys in their four-stall walk-through dairy at North Dandalup. However, recently they noticed that milking time was starting to eat a little too far into their day and on closer inspection realised the milking herd had increased to 60.
It was time to cut back and so after much consideration they decided to sell a few of their best. With little demand for Guernseys in WA, they decided their best plan was to transport them 3500 kilometres across the Nullabor to Victoria.
This trip looked a little daunting for the milking herd and so the decision was made to sell their top 25 heifers and one young bull instead.
This was not the first time Mr Gilbert had made a decision to sell animals, having previously sold his Holstein herd in 2011 so he could focus on his Guernsey herd. At the time many people outside the Guernsey breed thought he had gone a little mad and some even laughed at the idea.
In the years that have followed not only has Mr Gilbert developed one of the premier Guernsey herds in Australia, but he has also supplied milk to processors to create award-winning products and now broken a world record for sale prices.
These achievements don’t come without hard work though and the Gilberts made the decision that if they were going to sell, then there was only one way to do it. They have continually herd recorded and classified their animals allowing them to select only the best of their herd.
They then spent time halter training, washing and clipping them in preparation for professional photographs to complete their catalogue. They were incredibly grateful to the crew of people who helped out with all these stages and to Bradley Cullen for making the trip across to WA to take the photos.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 border restrictions prevented them from making the trip across with the heifers and so they placed their trust in Darby Norris, Andy Cullen and their crew to meet the animals in Rochester and present them at the sale.
While there were many nerves on sale day as the Gilberts settled in to watch the sale online, it seemed that there were even more bids. It was a sale to be remembered and one that left Mr GIlbert a little speechless, as it certainly exceeded all expectations.
The Gilberts would like to thank everyone involved in the sale, especially those who bought the animals and hope they have a long and prosperous future.
The Gilberts’ Golden Opportunity sale opened the doors to many people including two members who were welcomed into the Guernsey Cattle Society of Australia earlier this year. The first ones being David and Tonia Daley from the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, who bought the top-priced heifer, Gilbert Milos Haiti along with Gilbert Milos Alexia, to keep its company.
The Daley family used to milk Guernseys in the 1960s but when the price structure changed from being paid from butterfat to litres of milk they switched to Holsteins.
In fact, 70 per cent of their red-and-white Holstein herd today goes back to Guernseys. Today they milk Holsteins and Jerseys but they wanted to add Guernseys back into the mix to increase fertility and maintain milk components. Mr Daley is using Guernsey bulls over his red-and-white Holstein heifers and hopes to register the resultant heifer calves as appendix three Guernseys.
The other new member who jumped at the opportunity to attend and purchase from the Gilbert sale was Tony Lenehan and his partner Bec. They currently have five Guernseys, which are housed in Western Victoria on the dairy farm where Mr Lenehan works. They were pleased to buy two in-calf heifers, Gilbert Sigrid 28 and Gilbert Sigfrieds Helen 3.
Mr Lenehan used to milk Holsteins but has always held a fascination for the Guernsey breed. In 2014 he bought Donny Brook Darcy Annette from Craig and Cate Cleggett at Glencoe, SA. He now has a granddaughter from Annette by Golden Gate Prada Kakadu, who is developing well, and is also milking a five-year-old cow by Indian Acres Prada. Mr Lenehan said he believed the Guernsey cow had untapped potential for the Australian dairy farmer in the future.
Provided by Guernsey Cattle Society of Australia