Cooriemungle farmers see role for Brown Swiss

Paul Snijders at milking time. COORIEMUNGLE dairy farmer Paul Snijders’ first foray into Brown Swiss cows began in 1997, when he noticed some at the Melbourne Show.

Along with his wife Carol, they purchased six Brown Swiss calves in October 1998 – one was a pure bred and five were first-crosses.

That same year, they purchased Brown Swiss semen and carried out AI on some of their Jerseys.

In 1999, the Snijders witnessed 27 of their first Brown Swiss being born.

“Some of those first bred Brown Swiss are still in the milking herd today and producing well,” he said.

“We also purchased 28 registered in calf heifers from a breeder who was retiring.

“Three of these were pure bred animals, the rest were appendix 1 and 2 animals.”

Initially the couple’s plan was to have the herd 50-50 Jersey/Brown Swiss, but as the years went on they made the decision to go entirely Brown Swiss.

“After our initial purchases, we made the decision to just use AI and breed our herd up from the Jersey base,” Mrs Snijders said.

“Most of those first-cross cows have been brilliant workers and are still in the herd.

“We also purchased a couple of bulls (registered ones only) and keep daughters from them as well.”

As the years have advanced, so too has the Snijders’ herd, which they say is still “a work in progress”.

The couple like the versatility of Brown Swiss and their ability to cope with whatever conditions arise.

“They are of good temperament, easy to handle, they just want to come home and be milked and get back to the paddock, no fuss,” she said.

The breed is a later maturing animal and the couple don’t to expect too much in their first lactation.

However as they mature, they hold on well in the herd and are renowned for their longevity.

They currently have a registered herd of 263 Brown Swiss, comprising 165 milkers and 98 heifers, milk all year round and calve from May to October.

All dry cows are agisted off the farm and they also agist off the yearlings.

The Snijders make silage and a little hay, growing summer crops usually a rape, millet, chicory mix and feed Coprice pellets in the bail.

The herd is registered, herd tested and classified, encompassing 263 cows, 92 which are pure breds.

“We have used a variance of Brown Swiss genetics over the years, and had some damn good results and some poorly,” she said.

“The past few years we have leaned towards using European genetics and we are happy with what we are seeing type wise and production wise.

“We are especially happy with daughters from the German genetics.”

They are making better decisions about what bulls they will use, have culled heavier than they normally have and with improved pastures and better feeding management will be able to even get better results from their herd.

“Paul and I do believe that there is a place for Brown Swiss in the Australian dairy farmers’ herds,” she said.

“In our time we have milked, jerseys, Holsteins, Guernseys and Brown Swiss and crosses, but we will stick with our Brownies.

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