“It would not feel right milking any other breed”

By Erik Thompson, VikingGenetics AU

Jersey Breeder, Rhys Thompson breeds Jersey cows in the upper reaches of the beautiful Mitta Valley, North East Victoria, Australia. Rhys along with his wife Laura and three children, George aged 4, Gracie aged 3 and Harriet aged 1, are the fourth generation also to own the family business and maybe young George will make it number five!
Rhys farms off 325 hectares and milks his 300 Jerseys off 170 hectares of the farm. Some of the country is marginal and under bush (forest) but Rhys manages to rear his replacements and harvest all silage and hay on farm as well.

The dairy is a 20 swing over herringbone in which Rhys operates with the help of an extra worker for 2.5 days per week. Laura helps out with calf rearing and keeping the farm books.

Rhys is looking for a bigger framed Jersey and selecting his sires with the advice of sales representatives from VikingGenetics and Warren Dodd from Tallangatta Farm Services.

VikingJersey, a perfect fit for the farm

Rhys started including VikingJersey into his breeding programme three years ago and is very happy with the first completed lactation from VJ Husky and DJ Jante. The goal is to increase production without losing milk solids and Rhys sees the VikingJersey as a perfect fit to achieve it. 

The average production for the breed is over 7000 litres at 6.0% fat and 4.2% protein and also “the extra health traits are a real bonus” says Rhys. The cows are averaging 440 kgs of solids with an average composite of 4.1% protein and 5.3% fat & 1.2 tonne grain fed per cow. 

Asked if life was getting any easier after using VikingJersey, Rhys laughed and said: “if I free more time up through breeding better cows with less problems then I have more time to do other jobs on the farm. If I spent that extra time sat in the house playing with the children then Laura would hunt me outside anyway”.

Other challenges

Current challenges on the farm are grain supplement costs as they have doubled with the shortage from drought throughout most of the country. “Being a mainly dryland farm we are always looking to the skies for rain, particularly in March to set us up with an autumn break to carry us into the new season. The feral Samba deer are also a challenge, as the farm is surrounded by bushland which provides a great habitat and the Samba love the improved pastures the farm has to offer. Samba deer are not a small animal and are capable of consuming many tonnes of quality pasture”, he says. 

Generally, though Rhys and Laura love their farm life with their young family and are keen to keep building the multi-generational Thompson Farming Business well into the future for themselves and most likely the next generation of Jersey Breeders.

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