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February

07

Devon dairy farmer praises Cogent Beef Visions - M A & E M Tiller & Son, Cleave Farm

 

We visited David Tillier from Lifton, Devon who discussed his success with Cogent Beef Visons sires.

Beef Visions, Cogent's pioneering testing programme helps validate the genomic predictions of young bulls. It has been developed to improve the national herd by providing reliable information collected across a vast array of farming systems.

David Tillier and family manage a herd of 400 pedigree Holsteins on 800 acres at Cleave Farm, Lifton, Devon. They run an all-year round calving system with a herd that yields an average of 11,000 litres per year, supplying milk for Cathedral City on a Dairy Crest contract. The Tillier family first moved to Cleave Farm in 1972, where they expanded, milking 100 Holstein cows. Since then the herd has quadrupled in size and they installed a 50-point rotary parlour in 2010 to accommodate this growth.

The family have been using Cogent Dairy sires in their herd since Cogent was first established in 1995. As David explains "When selecting Holstein sires to use on our cows we base our decisions entirely on genomic selection, we are looking for high PLIs and outcrosses if possible". The herd have used Mr Rubi Agronaut and NH Sunview Fantastic, both of which are high PLI sire.

In addition to using Dairy sires David decided three years ago to incorporate Cogent Beef Visions sires into his breeding plan as he felt this could add value to his herd. He started off using Cogent's British Blue sire Auchenlay Islay and Cogent's Aberdeen Angus sire Thrunton Picador, with which he was receiving good results. In July 2017, Mr Tillier bred an exceptional British Blue calf sired by Tanat Jack Daniels which he sold at four and a half weeks old, for which he received market topping prices. Previously to this, the family had not used the market for over 15 years as every animal had been sold directly off the farm.

Today, the Tillier family continues to rear all their calves and sell them as either stores or keep them through to finishing. These calves are all reared in batches according to age and are achieving similar growth rates due to them all being fed on the same ration. The Cogent sire Springhill Improvement worked particularly well and produced excellent quality calves, so these were sold as stores in the spring. Furthermore, the family, have continued to use the market for the exceptional quality calves, "We tend to sell our best British Blue calves through the market" David and Anthony explain.

In the last 12 months, Tanat Jack Daniels and Springhill Jasper have also been used in the herd, and have produced good quality calves. Kelowna Jimbo is another favourite and has produced quality calves with a blue roan coat colour (as pictured below).

The Cogent Beef Visions Programme aims to produce the next generation of breeding bulls that will continue to build on the progress that older proven bulls have offered. There are bulls selected to be used in the Beef on Dairy portfolio; all have traits ideally suited to the UK dairy farmer working with different dairy systems. 

In the future Cleave Farm is aiming to look at Cogent Sexed Semen 4M across the herd to increase the number of heifers born. "Our cows regularly breed bull calves and so to gain more heifers we are looking to use more sexed semen; the best ones will be used as replacements within the herd".

Progeny of Kelowna Jimbo