Rai Valley farmer on quest for perfect jersey bull

Rai Valley jersey cow breeder Steven Leov, with his prize winning bull, Koroglen Glenmorangi, or Glen.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Rai Valley jersey cow breeder Steven Leov, with his prize winning bull, Koroglen Glenmorangi, or Glen.

Rai Valley jersey stud breeder Steven Leov​ thinks his prize young bull, Glen, would fit in well on the catwalk.

"He loves posing for the camera at the shows, he's a natural, " said Leov.

​At the Rai Valley A&P Show the R2 bull, Koroglen Glenmorangie​, won both champion jersey bull, and champion all breeds bull.

Leov also took home champion jersey, and all breeds cow with Hasty River Key Jemma​.

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Leov bred the bull himself after trying embryo transfer on a previous show cow. Two pregnancies resulted from the transfer.

"He's about 300 kilograms now but I expect him to get up to 700kg-800kg as he matures."

The bull's mother,  Koroglen NS Gloria, has a classification of VHC 92, or very highly commended, while his sire, Family Hill Ringmaster, is a well regarded United States sire.

Both Ringmaster, and the mothers sire, Sunset Canyon Nadene Supreme, come from dams which scored EX (excellent) 97.

"He's got good conformation, and has a good temperament."

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Leov farms 265 cows on a 135 hectare milking platform with his wife Sarah on Bulford Road, near Rai Valley Village.

The remainder of the total 500ha farm is used by his father, Bernard, to run 700 romneys. 

Slowly but surely the dairy herd is becoming more jersey, Leov said.

"My father liked friesians but I tend to like brown cows and I'm gradually changing the herd to jerseys," he said.

Leov took over the Koroglen jersey stud prefix from his maternal grandfather, Rex Brew who bred jerseys at his Koromiko dairy farm, between Picton and Blenheim.

"When my parents took over the family farm from Bernard's father they didn't keep up the registrations on jerseys they had been given by Rex. The emphasis was more on dairy farming than stud breeding," he said.

Leov started dairy farming in 2000 and started registering jerseys using the Koroglen stud name from 2001.

"I've always liked brown cows since I was a youngster," he said.

"I can't explain the reason why, I just like them.

"People go on about the two breeds, jersey or friesian, but it comes down to personal preference and what are easier to work with.

"I find the jerseys more fertile and efficient, I can produce more milksolids per hectare from the jerseys than I can with my friesians, around 350kg of milk solids on grass.

"I can also run more jerseys to the hectare than friesians."

Supplements would increase the production but with a low pay out grass was a cheaper feed, he said.

"We also grow turnips, and a chicory/plantain/clover mix crops."

While the emphasis was on breeding top class jerseys, the bills still had to be paid from the cow's milk, he said.

"I'd soon get bored if I only milked, and it is nice to try and breed something that is better and more efficient.

"Although you will never reach perfection it is good fun to try and achieve the best result you can."

Leov admits he faced an uphill battle to maintain high breeding quality.

"It's hard to compete against the big semen companies now who have dominated the market.

"This is the reason I always support the local shows."

Facebook also worked to spread contacts and the wins at Rai Valley A&P Show had drawn interest from overseas as a result of social media, he said.

"We will use him on our own cows and see how he goes.

"If there is enough interest in him we will take straws from him if it is cost effective.

"There's no reason he won't be around in 10-12 years."

 

 - The Marlborough Express

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