Embryo Purchases Leading The Way for Fleyas Holsteins of Australia

by Hu Team on May 23, 2014

Fleyas Holsteins was created in 2010 and comprises of myself Jessica Fleming, my husband Geoff and our two young children.

We were essentially a commercial herd that has purchased in a small handful of stud cows picked up at various auction and private sales between 2009 and 2013.  We appendix registered a small portion of the commercial herd and our first classification saw cows classified up to VG89.

23/07/2010 NEWS: Gorae West Dairy farmer Jessica Dey with cow Vicki.

Never in our wild dreams when we first started on our stud Holstein venture that we would end up purchasing international and Australian based embryos.  Or that we would start showing.
But never say never, as we all know that plans change and life changes – often for the best!

The path to Fleyas Holsteins purchasing embryos started in 2012 when we received a sale catalogue, and right at the back was a beautiful heifer that Geoff picked out.  Unfortunately we could not attend that sale and the heifer was sold.  Upon further investigation we discovered that the dam of that heifer had more embryos available for sale and I made contact with the owner.
Safe to say we have not looked back!

September 2012 we had our first purchased flush performed, using Ladd-P as a sire which resulted in five (5) A grade embryos. These were implanted into beef recipients some seven hours away for 100% conception. We were off on a journey we would soon learn would be highly addictive and full of both highs and lows.
By mid 2013 we had implanted more than 35 embryos with an average conception rate of 78% – beginners luck we were told. I would have to agree, as further implants have proved not as successful. However, beginners luck aside – we were excited.

We always look for something a little different when purchasing embryos, with our passion for polled, red and VRC at the fore of our purchasing decisions.   The polled conversation in Australia was quite limited back in 2012, with only a very small handful keen to try something so “risky”, and when we announced to friends we had purchased a flush and opted to use Ladd-P we had some pretty  interesting responses.   Of the five pregnancies, they resulted in 2 heifers with one born polled and both red.  The excitement the day we drove seven hours mid 2013 to catch these beef reared calves – to feel their heads for buds is something I will never forget. Our risk had paid off and the smooth head of our polled Ladd heifer left me smiling for days.

polled jane

Pic 1 – Polled red heifer – Ladd-P X Pooley Bridge Advent Jane VG89 X Pooley Bridge Storm Jane VG89
The potential from our embryos may be several years away, but we aim to reinvest into these embryo heifers by flushing them to suitable sires and increasing our offspring.  We are working towards three levels in our herd – the elite pedigrees and show cows, then  registered cow families built within our own herd from solid type and good production cows, then our commercial cows with a value on production and fertility.

This year we tentatively started showing two of our ET heifers – Fleyas Snow Dancer (a variant red Let It Snow) and Fleyas ManOMan Ding.
For us, this is trial and error – we have come into showing quite late and it is only through the support and help of friends that we have managed to get started.
We started showing on a smaller scale with two heifers to gain experience and to learn the ropes. Ultimately we are dairy farmers first, and as always the 300 cow strong milking herd comes before our time off farm for showing.  Oh – and the kids too!

calf sheds into training area

Converting our calf sheds into a training ground late 2013

Snow Dancer

April 2014 – Fleyas Snow Dancer Sept 2013 born. Sire: Let It Snow  Dam: Islehaven Gold Dancer

This will be our first year showing, and we are aiming to attend the first inaugural Red and White feature show in Australia – the Victorian Winter Fair in July.   This year will be about gaining experience rather than being there “to win” and we have had very encouraging feedback about our breeding and heifer development.
There have been a lot of lessons learnt in a short period of time once we started purchasing embryos, it pays to do your research and to not rush into purchasing. Although impulse purchases have paid off for us in the short term, it is not something I plan on repeating.

Research research research!

Look at the family behind both sire and dam, and also what your breeding objective is.  We had never planned to show – and one lot of our embryos we purchased were show type!  Fleyas Bradnick Lotto has recently come back at 4.04 PTAT after genomic testing.  Impulse purchasing at 3am in the morning at its best!
All our embryo heifers are genomically tested on the Australian system (APR), as well as LPI and TPI. For the small amount it costs we find it to be beneficial, especially as we are very new to the stud game (and the lingo) and the results are a great tool to refer back to.   All our future embryo transfer heifers, as well as AI bred offspring from our genetically superior animals will be tested.

23/07/2010 NEWS: Dairy farmer Jessica Dey.

The thrill of embryo calves being born is something that I do not think I will get sick of for many years to come and the day I stop is the day we will stop breeding via embryo transfer.

Although the benefits of the investment into the embryos in our herd will not be for several years yet, we are positive that it will pay itself off.
It is never too late to get involved, and you do not have to spend a lot of money to have “good stock”.  These days via social media you can chat direct to the breeders and talk one on one.
Social media itself is an asset for any stud to have – not only in connecting to other farmers, but also in reaching an international audience and participating in conversations that you would not normally get on farm. I have been quite blessed to have received the advice and support from many an experienced farmer, breeder and even semen sellers online.
Now I have a confession to make.

I am a city girl, who fell in love with a dairy farmer.  And then fell in love with the cows. I knew absolutely NOTHING about breeding dairy cows when I first walked into the milking shed and now I am well and truly head over heels (or gumboots) in love with these beautiful animals.
The pleasure received not only from embryo transfer calves being born, but also our home bred animals keeps us going, we strive to create healthier, stronger and improved dairy cattle that will withstand our Australian conditions.

We have worked hard to get to where we are, and we know we have a lot more work ahead of us – but we are loving every minute of it.

Especially when we are surrounded by beautiful cows.

Mascalese X Toystory

Fleyas Mascalese Glory born 15/5/14 and her dam Fleyas Toystory Glory GP84 1st Lact.

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