Dairy

Calivil farmer’s bull tops ranking

By Rodney Woods

Calivil's Craig Lister is on cloud nine after one of his bulls topped the ABV's national best Holstein bull rankings.

The bull, Calister MAEBULL, now based at Genetics Australia’s Bacchus Marsh farm, is the Number 1 BPI and SCC bull in Australia, and features in the top one per cent for HWI (health) and TWI (type), and in the top five per cent for calving ease and daughter fertility.

He is also A22 and 102 for heat tolerance and positive for feed saved.

He has 96 per cent reliability for production, 129 milking daughters, and a BPI of 323 making him Australia’s number one daughter-proven Holstein bull.

This is the first time one of Mr Lister’s bulls has achieved the top ranking and he said it was a relief as much as a reason for celebration.

“I was relieved,” Mr Lister said.

“He’d been number two or three for a few years.

``Each of those competitors are still around but have fallen away; MAEBULL has held very steady and very reliable.

“He’s the ideal modern-day bull with moderate stature, good health traits, and his daughters get back in-calf quickly while still producing well.

“I’m glad he’s providing the kind of cows that dairy farmers are happy with and I hope that he can continue to do so for a long time.”

Mr Lister, who milks 350 to 400 mostly highly-ranked registered Holsteins, purchased MAEBULL as an embryo from the United Stated to introduce a new cow family.

“In 2012 when the dollar was near parity, I saw an opportunity to import US genetics from a well-regarded cow family,” he said.

“I looked for cow families that I admired for their consistency in breeding profitable, productive Holsteins, and for embryos with bloodlines that had worked well in Australia.”

The embryos that led to MAEBULL were from a cow sired by Shottle, one of the most famous Holstein bulls in the past 20 years who had worked well in Australia.

Her dam was sired by Oman, who turned the Holstein breed around with health traits to address fertility and longevity problems.

“Both those bulls had worked well in Australia,” Mr Lister said.

“The embryos were sired by Palermo and he was among a group of Goldwyn sons we were using ourselves.

"There are some differences between what works in the US and in the grazing-based Australian system, but these were as close as we could get to genetics that we knew would work here."

Mr Lister said Genetics Australia “took a bit of a punt” on MAEBULL.

“He was on the lower end of the genomic bulls under the Australian system," he said.

"A bit of a punt was taken that, once more information was known, he would turn out pretty well.

"He was selected on that basis and because he had different pedigree from a well-known cow family that had had a lot of positive influence over a long period around the world.”

While enjoying the top ranking, Mr Lister  admits to some hesitation about taking all the credit.

“It’s kind of a funny feeling because I didn’t actually breed the bull," he said.

"He was bred by the Schmitt family from Iowa, but he has proven to be a great success in Australia.''