LIC bulls take spoils again at Holstein Friesian awards

It may have not been three in a row, but one Manawatu farm has achieved a hat-trick of sorts after this year’s Mahoe Trophy win.

LIC bull Maire Mint Fire-Up is the third winner to come from the Maire stud and win the highly-regarded award after Maire IG Gauntlet-ET and Maire FI Golddigger won the trophy in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The Mahoe Trophy is awarded by the New Zealand Holstein Friesian Association to the breeder of the locally-bred Holstein Friesian bull with the highest aggregate points for breeding worth (BW), protein BV, fat BV, longevity and type traits.

The Maire stud is located on State Highway 1 near Sanson running approximately 700 Holstein Friesian cows. It was bought by the Rowe family in the late 1960’s and has been selling contract bull calves to LIC for 15 years.

Fire Up’s breeder Craig Rowe says that the award is a huge honour for the stud.

“It’s something we’ve aspired to for a while as breeders. It shows that our bulls are really good all-rounders and have lots of traits that other farmers like. To win it the first time was really exciting, but to have three winners is something which makes us very proud.”

When asked why he thinks the stud has had so much success in recent years, Rowe credits it to listening to what farmers really want with their genetics.

“I’d like to think it’s because we’ve stuck to breeding balanced bulls that we think are going to be successful and that most people in the industry would like to use.

“There is no perfect bull, but if you get as many things as you can right in one bull, it makes them more likely to be competitive. I don’t know how long it will be before we win it again, but we’ll definitely keep trying!”

Mahoe Trophy winner

Mahoe Trophy winner LIC bull Maire Mint Fire-Up (pictured above)

LIC sires have dominated the award in recent years as the last seven winners have all been bulls that belong to the dairy co-operative.

LIC’s Livestock selection manager Simon Worth credits this success to the balanced approach that LIC, like the Maire stud, takes with its genetics programme.

“While this year’s winner Fire-Up is a high-production bull, it is his combination of production and TOP (traits other than production) in particular that makes him a real hit with farmers, and this is a pattern we’re seeing these days when looking at what farmers actually want with their genetics,” says Worth.

“Farmers don’t just want a cow that produces a lot of milk, they want one that is good to deal with on farm and has good physical traits. We’ve listened and made a balance between the two a priority in our genetics offering to our farmers”.

Maire Mint Fire-Up has featured in the competition’s top three placings each year since 2017. He currently has a BW of 158.

Family matters

A familiar name to LIC was present at the recent Boehringer Ingelheim Progeny Competition, also hosted by Holstein Friesian New Zealand.

The annual competition recognises elite progeny teams made up of four junior, or five senior dairy cows from the same herd and sired by the same bull.

Breeders select and enter teams of daughters from their herd, to be scored on traits such as udder overall, production worth (PW) and protein BV, with their TOP (traits other than production) inspections also taken into account.

Five of the six winning teams in the competition were sired by three different LIC bulls, all related to each other.

Fairmont Mint-Edition sired the first and third place teams in the senior category of the competition (daughters over 2.5 years old) while his son San Ray FM Beamer sired the second place team. The first and third place teams in the junior category (daughters under 2.5 years old) were sired by Mahoe Trophy winner Maire Mint Fire-Up, also a son of Fairmont Mint-Edition.