NZ Dairy Winter 2022

72 | nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » Brad & Rebecca Pickett Dad always the Virginia Wright Brad and Rebecca Pickett live on the farm where Brad grew up just out of Morrinsville in the Waikato region. Originally a 50-acre heifer grazing block run by Brad’s great grandfather its rst cowshed was built by him in 1936. Around 1970 the neighbouring 100 acres was bought making it the 150 acre (60 hectare) farm it is today. By then Brad’s father Graham and his Uncle Kent were share-milking and had upgraded the original walk-through cowshed to a double-up (two sets of cups on each side) which eventually was itself upgraded to the current 20 aside herringbone in 1985. When Kent bought a farm at nearby Kiwitahi Graham stayed on, and when Brad in his turn came home nine seasons ago he quickly moved from a management role into contract-milking and soon became an equity partner with his parents before taking over the running of the farm. “Pretty much from the beginning when I rst came home Dad’s been the eyes and ears and the mentor,” says Brad. “He’s still active around the farm and he runs the 20 hectare run-off block Mum and Dad also own down the road that the company leases off them.” That’s where the Picketts graze their young stock and harvest some supplement, considered imported for the purposes of their farm analysis, to add to the increasing number of crops they grow at home. At the same time they’re slowly lowering their stocking rate from 240 to 230, a reduction to 3.5 per hectare from the current four, as they did last year. Two years ago they constructed a couple of composting barns to house their cows over winter with an eye on cow comfort in general and calving in particular; and to protect their soil from pugging. The barns also prove useful in the heat of summer providing shade during the worst of the long hot days. The fairly heavy soil typical of the area is one of the reasons why they’ve always milked Jerseys which being lighter in the foot make less of a mess when the soil gets wet. The herd was traditionally LIC and CRV bred, but six years ago Brad and Rebecca turned to North American genetics as they Herd feeding in the composting barns (top). Herd grazing (above). proudlylocally ownedandoperated 100% kiwi owneD Morrinsville ∙ PHONE 07 889 5059 Proud to support Brad & Rebecca Pickett “Cow families don’t seem to be as deep as they were maybe 20 years ago. We target pedigree bulls with big cow families to back them. We’re looking further than three or four generations behind a bull.” started establishing their own Greenacre Jersey Stud. “Cow families don’t seem to be as deep as they were maybe 20 years ago. We target pedigree bulls with big cow families to back them. We’re looking further than three or four generations behind a bull,” explains Brad. “The functionality we’ve found in the cows is a lot better. They’re a lot wider both front and rear end, their legs are more suited for what we’re doing with them, more correct, and they’ve got better udders. We’re aiming for 550kg’s mild solids per cow.” They speci cally look for sires they can trace back to the Canadian bull Highland Magic Duncan, and while they’re only six seasons in they can see the results. “Uniformity in the size and the very high type in the herd; clean boned, honest cows that work hard. We want cows that milk 300 days, we’re not milking 150 days,” says Brad. They’re leaving as little as possible to chance having now started genomic testing through a Canadian programme called Elevate which assists in the selection of their young stock according to the traits they want, such as wide ribbed cows with plenty of room to take on feed. At the same time they’ve invested in a few cow families from their good friends Lloyd and Ann Wilson who have just dispersed their Denson Dale Jersey herd. They’ve been buying cows and young stock from speci c families for the last few years to get them established as broad cows in their herd, the matriarchs to be. “There’s one cow in particular that’s working quite well for us,” says Brad. “Her name’s Denson Dale T-bone Vestry. In time we’ll look at doing embryo work with her but she’s got ve direct descendants in the herd at the moment including young stock.” Given that one of her daughters, Denson Dale Vans Vestry, recently won Champion Cow at the Te Aroha Club Show it seems the stud has potential, but Brad wants to prove what they’ve got before they start selling to the public. “Maybe not this decade,” says Brad with a laugh. But in the meantime while they focus on the female side of things they might look to sell surplus pedigree stock if and when they have any.