CALDERMEADE Farm has long marked the point where the city hits the country.
Around 12,000 vehicles pass Caldermeade Farm each day and it has served as the perfect place for overseas tourists to experience a dairy farm.
The Jelbarts have grown the business since taking it over in 2006 and it’s also a hit with locals, offering delicious food and drinks.
After 11 years at the combined farm and café business, the Jelbart family is hanging up the gloves (and gumboots) to hand over the reins to another local family.
In early October, the Gommans, who own and operate The Gippy Goat Café, will take over and they’re planning on continuing the dairy and café business, bringing in Jerseys for their own branded milk – Coach House Dairy.
But before that can happen, the Jelbarts’ Holstein Herd needs to be sold.
The 350-odd Holstein cows and heifers are averaging around 33.5 litres a day, most of them benefitting from three or more generations of pedigree AI breeding.
The high-production herd is currently averaging 3.84 per cent fat and 3.72 per cent protein with a cell count of around 100,000.
For the past 25 years, Gerard Brislin has shared a business relationship with the Jelbart family as an adviser across the breeding program at Caldermeade Farm and Pound Creek, sharing ideas and thoughts with Max Jelbart, whilst also being challenged by Max’s inquisitive mind on many occasions.
Today Gerard holds a position as a senior sales and customer services representative with Genetics Australia, a position held for 14 years.
“Across the 25 years we have seen lots of changes in the world of dairy genetics and have moved with many of these changes along the journey, but the thing that hadn’t changed over the time was ensuring we maintain a strong focus on maximising productivity and economic returns against the investment made around genetics,” said Gerard.
The herd today is positioned in the top five per cent of the Holstein breed nationally when analysing herd records and data against the industry’s recognised economic index, the BPI (Balanced Performance Index). The highest BPI cow in the herd is 212 with several others above 200.
“The business has been willing to embrace new technologies with the use of DNA Genomic profiling around bull selection as well as utilising the advanced technologies in sexed semen across the breeding program to ensure genetics are introduced to achieve a high-level of genetic gain,” said Gerard.
“You don’t just buy genetics; you invest in genetics and in the future of your dairy herd, and this is very evident around the sale of this herd of Holstein cows next month.”
Back in 2015, the Caldermeade Farm herd met industry requirements and was selected amongst 24 other farms nationally to be part of a Gardiner Foundation program known as the ‘ImProving Herds Project’.
The three-year project brings together world-class collaboration of the dairy industry, aiming to make it easier for farmers to make quick, data-driven decisions to increase herd profitability.
As part of this project work, a group of cows amongst the herd have been genotyped using DNA profiling which identifies the more superior genetic animals amongst this group that are selling.
“It has been very much a privilege to have played a role in developing this herd to where it is today,” Gerard said.
He strongly encourages commercial dairy producers in the market for elite genetics to get along and secure genetics that rarely come on to the open market.
Like most dairy businesses, Caldermeade Farm has had to deal with cuts to the price of milk, while also maintaining a farm in Pound Creek where they milk a further 1000 cows.
Tim Jelbart encourages other farmers to stick with Murray Goulburn where possible.
“As a family we made a conscious decision to continue supplying MG because we believe in the co-op,” he said.
“They’re there for all farmers, and we need a strong co-op into the future to support the next generation. The current MG management has the expertise but need your support in supplying milk.”
The most memorable time at Caldermeade Farm was in 2010 when the now president of the Peoples Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, visited the farm with around 40 high powered international delegates.
The visit included a motorcade and police helicopter escort from the Melbourne Airport where Mr Jinping stayed to learn about the Australian dairy industry which was followed by lunch in the café.
“It was an honour to host such an important delegation and to teach them a little about how we farm in Australia. We later found out that Mr Jinping referenced Max in a visit to a farm in the UK some 12 months later – so his visit clearly had a positive impact on him.”
The Caldermeade Farm Holstein Herd will be auctioned through a complete dispersal sale on Friday, October 6 from 10.30am at Koonwarra VLE by Brian Leslie at DLS.
Follow the sale through the Caldermeade Farm Herd Dispersal Facebook page.