A herd to be proud of

Scott and Maree Bixley of Kaylen Holstein Friesian Breeders at Tussock Creek moved their farm business from the Waikato six years ago.

“Farming was tough in the Waikato, so a good friend who was farming in Southland encouraged us to come down ‘to have a look,'” says Maree.

They bit the bullet and today milk 350 cows on 142ha, with a 28ha paddock; Scott and Maree are in equity partnership with Scott’s parents Russell and Lynda.

Scott, the son of an accountant, grew up in Pukekohe and Marie on a dairy farm in Maramarua.

“Dad always wanted to be a dairy farmer, but decided to continue working as an accountant, and still is today,” says Scott.

Working as a dairy farmer with his aunt and uncle, Scott farmed in the Waikato for several years. He and Maree milked 180 cows 50/50 at Morrinsville, then 410 cows 50/50 at Otapiri.

They then moved to a post at Kindley Downs in Clydedale, where they milked 780 cows on a 50/50 share.

“We went from 180 cows to 780 cows in two years,” says Scott.

The original herd they bought consisted of Jersey cattle, but within two years they sold the Jerseys and replaced them with Holstein Friesian cows. During this time they bought crossbreeds and then sold them to a Southland farmer.

Today the herd is 70-80% Holstein Friesian.

Maree says they decided to breed Holstein Friesian cattle because they are hardy, good-natured and there is already a market for cattle.

“We also look for cows that do the work for us,” says Maree. “We’re sitting at 190,000 kgMS production, but we want to do better. We’ve had a few curveballs thrown at us since moving here, but we’re getting there.”

Rainy weather meant congestion could be a problem, but the couple commissioned work on the Smart Shelter, which will take the pressure off in the spring.

The Bixleys feed a ton/cow from the stall and buy bales to feed them in the winter rather than grazing the crops.

Calving begins on August 21, with approximately 80 replacements being kept.

“Any extra, we send up to China,” says Scott. “We also sell 50 cuts of beef every year.”

Mating begins on November 11; Scott is the AB technician and they still use STgenetics’ Chromosomal Mating Program when selecting their bulls.

“We use STgenetics, World Wide Sires and Semen,” Scott said.

Half of the herd is bred and the rest is used for beef. For the dairy herd, they use sexed semen for the first four to five weeks, followed by regular Holstein Friesian semen for one week. The returning cows are then bred to Belgian Blue or short gestation crossbred bulls from LIC for the last week.

Scott said they have used Edg Rubicon-ET in recent seasons and had good daughters.

“We also used bulls from the Maire herd, including Maire Oman Franklin,” he says. “We have twins now that are retired at 16 but are great contributors to the herd, with 26 generations between them. Some of their daughters are from Franklin.”

When the Bixleys sold their Jersey herd, they put the “big bull” Tom Oman Dotson-ET on a “good litter Jersey cow”.

“The result was an animal that grew and grew and ended up with full Holstein Friesian markings and built like a train,” Scott said. “He had daughters by Ladys-Manor Pl Shamrock-ET and Seagull-Bay Supersire-ET.

“We also bought a group of heifers from Roger and Sue Jenkins (Membury Stud) with small udders and fantastic temperaments.”

Scott says their ideal cow is a large Holstein cow that milks two cows.

“We want the litres, capacity and power that come from a big cow,” says Scott. “We want to milk fewer cows, so we really select udders, size, liters and components to create an efficient cow.”

Future Plans

Looking to the future, they would like to buy out Scott’s parents and milk fewer cows.

“We would like to milk fewer cows while maintaining peak productivity,” says Maree.

“Scott and I work on the farm with a full-time employee on calving and mating, so we’d like to make it easier.”

The farm, JTK Farms Ltd, is named for the Bixleys’ children Jayden (9), Tyler (7) and Katelyn (4). Kaylen is also a combination of their names.

And Scott’s parents, Russell and Lynda, want to sell up and join them in the South Island.

“My dad and I have our battles, he’s an accountant and I’m a farmer, but we both want to make money and have fun and do ranching,” says Scott. “We are also building businesses for children to ensure their future.”

Scott and Maree say two people have had a huge impact on them since moving to Southland: breeder and Southland HFNZ Life member Brian Perkins of Fernlea Stud and John Bannatyne of STgenetics.

“Brian convinced us that our cows were better than we thought and encouraged us to enter the HFNZ- Semex On Farm Otago/Southland Two Year Old class with Kaylen M-Leche Alice S1F,” said Scott sas. “And John has been there to help us shape the herd to our breeding goals and preferences.

“We want to be able to enjoy looking out the window at our herd and have a herd that will say, ‘I want those cows’ when people walk by. We want a herd that we can be proud of.”

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