Nick and Anieka Templer worked their way up through the industry beginning ten years ago as contract milkers. When they started, it was a large Friesian herd doing around 460 AVG ms. Each year the Templers would buy small numbers of cows to begin building the foundation of their herd. Three years ago, they became 50/50 sharemilkers on the same farm.

The Templers are focusing on breeding a small cow with more production. They found the large Friesian caused a lot of pugging and had a higher environmental impact. First crossing a Jersey over the Friesians to bring the size down, the Templers are now crossing a range of breeds over the herd, keeping heterosis levels high.

“I don’t like being the same as everyone else, I prefer to have a bit of everything. I believe every breed has something it brings to the herd that is beneficial,” said Anieka.

“We used the Three Way Cross a bit ahead of its time back in 2008, we put some Montbeliarde and Swedish Red (Now VikingRed) in. They were beautiful animals and great to milk. That is what got me into it,” said Anieka.

Selecting bulls on traits that meet their requirements; capacity, stature, fertility and health traits rather than based on the breed itself has opened up a lot of options for the Templers. With the boosted heterosis, the herd now produces over 500 AVG ms a year, and they have achieved a nice smaller-stature, balanced herd.

The Templers have used a wide range of breeds, including; VikingRed, Montbeliarde, Fleckvieh, Normande, Friesian, Jersey, Blaarkop, Linebacks, Norwegian Red and more. “The advantage of breeding with a variety of breeds is the boost in heterosis. The calves are easy to rear, they have got a bit more go to them and they are up straight away,” says Anieka. “They give us good dual purpose as well,” adds Nick.

Focusing on the future, the Templers are very excited about using high genetic merit polled sires to reduce/remove dehorning, and dual-purpose breeds are helping remove bobby calves from their system.

“We are continuously looking into the future as to where it is going to go, dehorning is not a nice job and the calves always get knocked back,” said Anieka.

“With the dual purpose, we can reduce bobby numbers and we can fatten and finish our own stock which adds value with a secondary income stream, so we are not solely reliant on milk price,” said Nick.

The Templers have used Samen NZ’s Short Gestation Belgian Blue for two years. On top of extra days in milk, the Belgian Blues from Samen always colour mark and look like a Belgian Blue. They are easy to rear and grow like stink. Anieka comments, “when they are ten days old they are already filling out a lot”.

Longevity is important to the Templers. “I think it’s a waste rearing a heifer calf and it only lasts two or three years, they need to get to peak production. You have put all this time and effort into a heifer and if she doesn’t even make it to peak production it is a waste of a good animal,” said Anieka.

Anieka’s dream cow is red, 450kg max with a good udder, gets in calf every year, has good feet, never has mastitis and does 110% of her body weight in milk solids.

For the Templers, genetics have a role to play. They are looking toward the future of the dairy industry here in New Zealand and are actively working to stay ahead of the curve and find more efficient processes.


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