The new masters of breeding

The new Jersey Australia Master Breeders are Paul Lenehan and Anne and Geoff Heazelwood.

Farmers from Tasmania and south-west Victoria have been added to the Jersey Australia Master Breeder honour board.

Merseybank Jerseys owned by Geoff and Anne Heazelwood from Latrobe on the Mersey River in north-west Tasmania, and Paul and Lynette Lenehan from Murray Brook Jerseys from Crossley in south-west Victoria are the new inclusions.

Merseybank was started in 1954 by Anne’s grandparents and parents and has been run by Geoff and Anne since 1980.

The stud has produced Tasmanian State Dairy winners, an Intermediate Champion at International Dairy Week and Champion and Reserve Champions in Jersey Australia’s Great Southern Challenge.

For five successive years in the challenge, Merseybank Eltons Claire was either champion or reserve champion; something no other cow has achieved.

Last year, Merseybank was second to the overall champion in the Great Southern with Lemon Trickle.

Merseybank has bred three Jersey elite brood cows, 56 Jersey elite production cows and four Jersey elite type cows.

Geoff said he had always followed the policy of breeding “a cow that gives the greatest amount of milk over the longest period of time for the least trouble”.

He said he was humbled by the honour.

“You don’t expect it, but I do value it. Jersey cows have been good to us and you can go anywhere in Australia and talk cows,” Geoff said.

Geoff and Anne Heazelwood on their dairy farm at Latrobe on the Mersey River in north-west Tasmania.

Murray Brook Jerseys was founded in 2000 with Paul building on a strong herd started decades earlier by his father Patrick.

Although his son Adam now manages most parts of the farm business, Paul keeps the reins of the breeding program and remains committed and passionate about developing good cows.

His breeding goals haven’t changed much over time.

“I’ve always wanted a big-bodied cow with capacity to eat a lot of feed and produce a lot of milk, and she had to have a good udder to carry that and to last in the herd for a long time.”

Murray Brook cows have the Great Southern Challenge and has produced four cows classified as excellent 93.

“I’ve always been a commercial breeder and this recognition is very much appreciated,” Paul said.

Murray Brook has bred one Jersey elite bull, 40 Jersey elite production cows and two Jersey elite type cows.

The Master Breeder awards were introduced last year to recognise breeding excellence over the past 20 years and the commitment of farmers to the breed.

The inaugural Master Breeders announced last year were: Wilson family’s Shirlinn Jerseys from Tamworth NSW; Geoff and Natalie Akers’ Loxleigh Jerseys from Tallygaroopna in northern Victoria; Kuhne family’s Bushlea Jerseys from Koonwarra, Gippsland, Victoria; Bacon family’s Brookbora Jerseys from Tennyson in northern Victoria; Alan and Janine Carson’s Cairnbrae Jerseys from Colac in Western Victoria; Lynton and Lisa Broad’s Broadlin Jerseys from Wonthaggi, Gippsland; Rob and Kerrie Anderson’s Kings Ville Jerseys from Drouin West, Victoria; Nicholson family’s Jugiong Jerseys from Girgarre, northern Victoria; Luke and Mel Wallace’s Wallacedale Jerseys from Warragul, Victoria; Sprunt family’s Kaarmona Jerseys from Kaarimba, northern Victoria.

Jersey Australia general manager Glen Barrett said the Master Breeder award required breeders to have been a Jersey Australia member for at least 20 years and to register 25 animals a year on average across those 20 years, along with producing elite brood, type and production cows and elite bulls.

Paul Lenehan on his Murray Brook Jerseys dairy farm at Crossley in south-west Victoria.