Brendan returned to his true passion

After a brief foray into crossbred cows Orini farmer Brendan White has returned to his true passion, jerseys, with the purchase of two important studs. Brendan grew up on a farm with jerseys and was a self-confessed “jersey fanatic” in his  rst years of farming in the mid 90’s. His family started his registered pedigree stud Waikare Jersey’s in 1996 and sold a few bulls to AB companies. But when farmers started moving towards a black kiwicross cow he decided to start cross breeding, using friesian bulls across his herd in 2013. He sold a big portion of his lowest indexing jerseys and replaced them with high  gured crossbreds until eventually his herd was around 60-70% crossbreds. But something was missing – production and passion: “When I walked through the cows, I was more passionate about the jerseys than any other breed. I also didn’t see the rise in milk production from the crossbreds I was expecting,” says Brendan. Then fate stepped in and in 2017 he saw an attractive R2 jersey for sale on Facebook offered by Bruce and Margaret Sim of Glen Leith Stud.

Brendan made contact with the owners straight away but there was a lot of interest in the cow and his offer wasn’t high enough so he missed out on the purchase. But his passion for jerseys was evident to the Sims and they agreed to sell Brendan one of their really good heifers. That started a great relationship
that saw Brendan spend hours talking about all things jersey with the Sims and subsequent purchases

In 2021 when the Sims decided to retire Brendan bought 55 of their A2/A2 cows shifting the balance of his herd to 50% jerseys. With each jersey producing only slightly less milk solids than the much larger crossbreds, Brendan knew he’d made the right decision returning to the cow he was most passionate about. In 2018 Brendan and wife Stacey, who works off farm as a schoolteacher, moved to a new farm and re-registered the herd as Maharee Jerseys, named after their three kids Max, Harry and Reese. Last season another great opportunity arose, and Brendan sold 200 crossbred cows and replaced them with 200 jersey cows from Lyna and Luke Beerhe’s Okura Stud in Northland. “It was an extremely exciting herd for me as I’d been using their genetics a lot over the years. In my mind it was one of the forefront jersey herds in the country,” says Brendan who has only kept his top 40 crossbred cows with the remainder of the 400-cow herd being jerseys. “I get attached to my animals so it was hard to sell the crossbreds I’d bred up over the years but there is no part of me that regrets it. I’m very excited to go back to jerseys.” Brendan targets a bigger jersey cow with good fertility and udders and type big priorities. He is targeting an 80% six-week in calf rate, which at the moment sits at 74%. He has put Allflex collars on the cows this year, which he will use as a tool to help improve the herd’s performance.

The Maharee Jersey Stud has a current BW of 326and a PW of 354 with 100% recorded ancestry and is supplying A2/ A2 milk to Synlait. Production in the past few years has averaged around 500kgsMS per cow. Brendan does a lot of embryo transfer work in conjunction with breeding companies to fast track genetic gain. Last year he  ushed 100 embryos out of his best cows putting them into beef recipients, which graze on a run off at Te Kauwhata. “By buying yearling beef heifers to grow them out as well as doing embryo transfers with them we get a double benefit,” he says. Brendan and Stacey run their 120ha effective/127ha total farm with the help of contract milkers Michael and Monique Allison. “I was always really proud of the herd we had and buying the two other herds has strengthened our overall genetics. I’m super passionate about my cows. Walking around my cows is 100% my happy place.”

Article sourced from NZDairy – Written by Karen Phelps