NZ Dairy Summer 2021

| 3 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Ferdon Genetics: Warren & Michelle Ferguson Cows, to this family, mean everything Dianna Malcolm A Waikato herd with a Breeding Worth (BW) of – 52 includes Jerseys producing up to 700kg Milk Solids, who often stay in the herd until they are 10 years old, and who sell for (on average) almost $6000 a head? Ferdon Genetics is owned by Warren and Michelle Ferguson at Otorohanga. They milk 220 predominately registered Jerseys with a smattering of Holsteins and even fewer Ayrshires on 92 hectares. One of their sons, Corey, who is blazing his own trail in the industry, recently returned home to the family operation. This is a herd that bucks the system because it includes qualities and philosophies that rail against the Kiwi rank and file. For the dairymen who like numbers, here’s some more. Ferdon cattle which were sold in two sales last year – the Autumn Harvest sale and A Taste of Waipiri – averaged $5703 for 12 head (11 yearlings and one in-milk animal). Ferdon earns up to $1.25kg Milk Solids on cattle sales (compared to an industry benchmark of 56c kg MS). The reason Ferdon is profitable is simple. To Ferdon cows are not “just cows”. They are family, and those cow families and the individuals within them have formed the foundation of Ferdon’s success. Warren was recently named to judge the Holsteins at the biggest show in the southern hemisphere – International Dairy Week (IDW) – in Victoria, Australia. He has already stood in the main ring at IDW – judging the Jerseys in 2012 (when the Jersey won Supreme Champion) and the Ayrshires in 2017 (when his Intermediate Ayrshire Champion went on to win Supreme Intermediate). He is well-versed in competing, having won Premier Jersey Exhibitor every time Ferdon has entered the New Zealand Dairy Event (NZDE) at Feilding. Warren was awarded Jersey NZ’s inaugural George Henry Dawick Memorial Cup in 2020, which recognises national or international achievement within the breed. One of Ferdon’s cow families almost as well-known as Ferdon itself is Ferdon Comerica Viyella, who was Grand Champion Jersey at the NZDE for five successive years – winning Supreme in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Her dam, Ferdon Follys Viyalla still resides at Ferdon, aged 17 years. In addition to her own NZDE Champion titles, she has left 11 EX daughters at Ferdon (seven natural and four born from embryo Michelle and Warren Ferguson dance to their own tune on their Waikato dairy farm, Ferdon Genetics, which is famous for owning cows with Queen Elizabeth II. transfer). She is backed by 10 generations of EX cows. Ferdon Genetics was established in 1949 by Warren’s late father, Don, who famously shared ownership on cows with the UK’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Don showed cattle at the Waikato Show for seven decades and Warren and Michelle have exhibited for 55 years at the same event. Warren acknowledges that herds which include show cows are often misunderstood by their commercial peers. He says it’s an industry divide which doesn’t need to exist. “People often think all we’re doing is trying to breed a show cow,” Warren said. “That’s not true. As I say to anyone who asks, we’re trying to breed a functional cow the best we can get her, and if we get to show her that’s the icing on the cake. But, to be honest, a show cow and a profitable herd cow should be one and the same. “It’s 4km from our front gate to the river flats at the back of our farm. So, our cows have to do a fair bit of walking and they have to be functionally correct to do that. If they have good legs, and if their udders are correct and well-attached they will last. That’s what we want. Even though we’re Jersey people, we have always appreciated a good cow in any breed and – for us – when you buy into a good cow family those maternal traits come through generation after generation.” Warren says cows have taken them all over the world and introduced them to some of their closest friends. So, cows to this family are not “just cows”. They’re everything. ww engineers | surveyors | planners 1180 Amohia Street, Rotorua 3010 Ph: +64 7 349 8470 Proudly supporting the rural community since Napier, Ohakune and Taumarunui, we are your experts in: • Subdivision • Land Use Compatibility • Soil Contamination • Resource Consents · SILAGE · HAY · DIGGER · TRACKS · RACE ROCK · GENERAL CARTAGE WALTERS Agricultural Contractors i l l p. 07 873 2828 m. 0274 947 684 RD2, Otorohanga Robert Walters • Round Bale Hay and Silage • Undersowing 021 189 4871 07 873 7595 A/H Otorohanga - Te Kuiti - Piopio