Friday, July 8, 2022

Pedigree a lifetime’s investment

Good breeding runs in the family, and as Barbara Gilham found out, the next generation of the Ingram family is showing a keen interest in Jersey genetics, advising parents Philip and Susan which bulls to use. Brendan Ingram has a good example to follow, as his parent’s herd is one of the country’s best. Philip and Susan Ingram of Philsan Jerseys have every reason to be proud of their herd of pedigree Jersey cows. With a recently recorded average breeding worth (BW) of 127, the herd is now in the country’s top 2%. This impressive result did not happen overnight. A lot of hard work and careful breeding over many years has gone into the success they are now enjoying. Both from farming families, Philip and Susan met at a Young Farmers convention. After they married they bought some land next to Philip’s parent’s farm in Taranaki and began their farming career. “Rather than go sharemilking for them we had the opportunity to buy some land from their neighbours, which we managed to finance straight away,” Philip said. “It was like a partnership we had with them, not a sharemilking thing.” They stayed in Taranaki for several years before deciding they wanted to expand. “That was in the early 1990’s. We didn’t have enough land and by the time we got to the mid-90’s the price of land in Taranaki was so dear.

“We sold up and had enough money to move to Tokomaru in the Manawatu where land was cheaper and buy 80ha which made a huge difference. If we’d stayed up there we might have been able to get a farm of about 60ha on our own but by moving here we got another 20ha and that’s all producing milk.”

Five years ago they expanded onto a neighbouring farm and now graze their herd of 330 cows on 107ha.

Lining up

Susan Ingram with one of the Jersey cows in their high-producing herd.

The family of high-producing cows she went on to produce have been the mainstay of the couple’s herd which all have names beginning with K. Today some of their cows have BWs of more than 200, such as Kirsten who has an impressive BW of 227.

Their bulls are also highly regarded and in demand, such as Kurathers who was sold to CRV Ambreed in 1997. His semen is highly valued and today is used in Jersey herds throughout the country.

The couple have sold their bulls to LIC and CRV Ambreed for their sire-proving schemes and also semen to Liberty Genetics. Two of their bulls are on LIC’s premier sires DNA team and another has proven status with Liberty.

Despite milking fewer cows this year through their 44-bail rotary dairy, milk production is up.

“Last season we were milking 340 cows and milk production was 130,000kg milksolids (MS); this season we are ahead by about 4500kg MS.”

Over the years the couple have been recognised by the dairy industry for their work and efforts. In 2006 they won the Ambreed New Zealand Award for excellence in Jersey farming. Last year they were awarded the Jersey Efficiency Scroll as well as receiving the JW Singer Award in recognition of their contribution in the field of farming activities, administration and social activities.

Family matters

Family is important to the couple and their pride is obvious when they talk of their four children, who have all had hands-on experience on the farm and share their love of animals. Their eldest daughters are studying for degrees at Massey University, Louise doing a business degree and Rachel studying accountancy, while younger daughter Karen and son Brendan are still at school.

“Karen’s the sporty one,” Philip said. “She’s right into women’s football and has made the NZ secondary school team for under 16-year-olds. She’s going to Fiji this year to play. Brendan is very keen on the breeding side. He’s only 12 but he gets on the computer and looks up the animal evaluation site and checks out the BWs. He knows all the up and coming bulls and tells us what we should use.

While his parents name all their herd with names beginning with K after their mothers Brendan calls his cows Beauty and names beginning with the letter B.

Philip believes they have achieved their high rating through carefully selected breeding of heifers from their top cows to NZ’s best Jersey bulls.

“We got that top cow in 1986 and we’ve just sort of gone from there. We’ve kept mating to top bulls all the way along.”

Farm: Philsan Jerseys
Location: Tokomaru, Manawatu
Owners: Philip and Susan Ingram
Area: 107ha
Herd: 330 Jerseys, breeding worth (BW) 127
Production: 2011/12 with 340 cows milked, 130,000kg milksolids (MS)
Dairy: 44-bail rotary.

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