Wes Hurrell, Co-Owner, Rockwella Farm Holsteins

Scheres Brothers Farm

Background

The Scheres family farm, today run by Thomas Scheres and his wife Andrea, is part of the Scheres Brothers Farm Group in Lichfeld, in New Zealand’s North Island. The original farm was established by Thomas’ grandparents in the 1950s, and Thomas’ cousins run the other farms in the group. As a 50/50 share milker, Thomas owns the herd, and his dad Peter owns the land. His herd stands at 550 strong, including 420 milking cows. challenges Until 10 years ago, the Scheres’ farm stood steady at approximately 300 cows. Then, after Peter switched from a grass-fed system to a feed pad, production doubled within a few years. Following that dramatic growth, Thomas has been able to grow the business only slightly, by pushing the land a bit harder and inching up production. At the same time, as production was increasing, Peter was fnding it harder to get cows in calf. And having relied on bulls to supplement AI, he was looking for a more foolproof system that would guarantee more cows in calf, with a higher number of heifers, and more pure breeds. As Thomas says, “In the back of our minds, we were looking for something to help us get more cows in calf, but didn’t know what. When we saw the opportunity, we took it.

“In the past, I might make assumptions about identifying heat, but not necessarily the correct ones. Heatime eliminates the errors – it’s either yes or no. There’s no maybe about whether to mate the cows.”
Wes Hurrell, Co-Owner, Rockwella Farm Holsteins

system

Thomas frst encountered the SCR Heatime System at the 2012 National Field Days, when “the presentation of Heatime by Milfos International caught my Dad’s eye. He saw it was going to be more accurate because it was able to monitor heats, rumination, and activity.” Together with his cousins, who own an additional three farms nearby, 2,000 SCR tags were purchased, along with an SCR Heatime HR System for each farm. In August 2012, Thomas implemented the system on his farm, with 430 tags and a touchscreen terminal. Every cow in his herd – from two years to nine years or older – now wears the collars.

Benefits

Thanks to the intuitive nature of the SCR Heatime HR System, the learning curve was short, and the benefts immediately clear. “The frst year of using it we did two weeks less mating, and 150 fewer inseminations,” says Thomas, “That made the calving period shorter. It also saved a lot of observation and painting time.” Before installing the SCR Heatime System, “we did six weeks of AI, and then put the bulls in for four weeks to tail-off the herd. But usually those calves were no use to us, so it was only to get them in calf,” says Thomas. “We saw that if we used all AI it would be more accurate and we’d get better progeny.” Thanks to the accuracy of SCR Heatime, the use of higher-cost sexed Friesian semen has been justifed, and he’s been able to move entirely to AI. As a result, all of Thomas’ replacement stock is more valuable, purebred Friesian. “We use sexed semen for six weeks and the frst year, we got 160 heifers out of 320 cows, giving us twice as many replacements as the year before. We sold 80 at NZ$500 each, and kept 80 for stock.” Further savings have been garnered by catching empty cows, pregnant cows, and silent heats. There’s no chance now that an empty cow might be dried off and as a result have to be sold, or that a pregnant cow might be re-inseminated. In addition to catching heat and estrus, Thomas uses the system’s health report on a daily basis to spot illness.