Manawatu dairy farmer Holly Powell says breeding “spunky” Holstein Friesian cattle is one way to keep farming interesting.
“They are always wanting cuddles, always in your face and nosy,” Holly says. “You have to make farming fun, over and above seeing milk going into the vat – and the character of Holstein Friesian cattle brings fun to your day.”
Holly, 18, was brought up with the breed, with her parents Brad and Kelly Powell milking 400 pedigree Holstein Friesian cattle on 140ha near Tangimoana, under the stud name Radly Holsteins.
Holly, who attended Feilding Agricultural High School, has been a farm assistant for one year on Craig and Chantelle Rowe’s 700-cow farm at Rongotea. They have pedigree Holstein Friesians under the Maire stud.
Holly has been showing cattle since she was young, starting with calf days when she was five years old. When she turned 8, she began showing a couple of successful pet-day calves at shows such as the Stratford A&P Show, the Levin A&P Show and the Manawatu A&P Show.
She has been showing regularly ever since and has also attended the NZ Dairy Event and the Waikato Show for the last couple of seasons.
“Showing is still very fun for me,” Holly says.
She has taken her passion for showing to the World Wide Sires National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp for the last three years, attending camps in Stratford, Gore and Waikato.
The camps aim to teach young breeders aged 10-21 skills in clipping, showing, judging and classifying cattle, gleaning knowledge and tips from people with experience in showing while making new friends and having fun along the way.
“You meet all sorts of kids that come from different backgrounds,” Holly says. “It’s awesome to talk about the differences and similarities between each farm and catching up with friends you’ve made in previous years.”
While Holly is enjoying her time at Maire, she has her sights set on returning home in the next year or so to manage the family farm, with a view to taking over in the next 10 years.
She has her finger firmly on the pulse of Radly Holsteins and has taken an interest in the mating decisions her parents undertake each season.
“We have been using World Wide Sires semen for the past eight years, and we have been seeing great results,” Holly says. “We are seeing udders hanging on for longer, and long lines in the herd. Our TOP scoring has also been looking good lately, and production last season was 670kgMS/cow.”
Holly says a couple of pet day calves have performed extremely well as adults in the herd, with Radly Supersire Isabelle producing 900kgMS as a five-year-old, and Radly Manifold Dove doing an incredible 990kgMS.
Holly has also purchased cows of her own, the first of which was Fusion Sammy Twinkie, bought four years ago from Ron and Amy Baker of Fusion Genetics.
“Twinkie has now given me two daughters – Radly Mogul Twilight and Radly Solomon Tinkabell – and I’m really excited to see how they turn out,” she says.
Holly says when choosing bulls, she looks for traits that support a cow with a potentially long walk back to the paddock.
“For me, a priority is legs and feet as on the family farm, the herd has to walk a little while to get to the night paddocks,” she says. “After that, traits I look at would be depth and openness of rib, and fineness of bone.”
Radly Holsteins took 10 cows to the 2022 NZ Dairy Event, including Radly Solomon Tinkabell, who Holly showed in the Junior Heifer class.
“We were very pleased with the placings at Dairy Event,” Holly says. “Highlights included Radly Sidekick Dice placing first in the Senior Yearling Youth show, Radly Alcove Penna placing second in the Junior Heifer class and second in the All Breeds Junior Heifer class, and Radly Doorman Barb-ET placing second in the four-year-old In-Milk class.”
Holly also participated in the 2022 NZDE Youth Challenge alongside sister Jessica, Izzy Edge and Monique Radford, placing third out of eight teams, and Best Team Judge of the day.
Earlier in January, Radly Holsteins attended the Levin A&P Show with Radly Solomon Penna-ET winning Supreme Holstein Friesian and placing first in the two-year-old In Milk class, first in the two-year-old All Breeds class, Intermediate Champion and Champion Holstein Cow.
Holly’s cow Tinkabell placed first in the Holstein Friesian Drystock class and second in the All Breeds Drystock class.
Holly, who placed first in the 2021 Holstein Friesian NZ Promotional Photo Competition, says she enjoys taking photos in her spare time, showcasing her love of animals and the farming industry.
“I like taking photos on the farm because it’s always nice to get an image with a cute cow and a nice sunset or sunrise in it, to show the cow and the farm and how lucky I am to live out here,” she says. “I love the dairy industry because you can see the change you make in the genetics. Being able to see cow families stay around for generations because they have better traits and milk production is awesome.”