Bradley and Nicole Parkes know that what makes a good show animal may not necessarily make a good commercial milk producer – but they have found a way to translate their comprehensive show experience into a formula that also maximises milk production.
Bradley and Nicole, of Bradnic Jerseys and Holsteins, both have a long history in the dairy industry and are passionate about improving their herd to not only reach excellent classification heights, but to produce quality, plentiful milk.
Bradley grew up on a dairy farm in the Marlborough Sounds, with his parents breeding cattle under the Parlan stud name; his grandparents’ studs were Windermere and Paroa, respectively. He attended Lincoln University before travelling the world for 10 years showing cattle.
Nicole was brought up on her family dairy farm with her parents, Ross and Susan Johnson of Hasty Spring Stud who, with Nicole’s grandparents, bred Jersey cattle, gradually converting a section of the herd to Holstein Friesian.
Today, Bradley and Nicole are equity partners with Ross and Susan, farming 70ha effective (plus a 20ha runoff) at Mangatoki in South Taranaki.
They milk 250 cows – 110 of which are pedigree Holstein Friesian – and their production target is 500kgMS/cow, or 100,000kgMS in total. The System 3 farm sees some meal fed in the shed, but the cows have a predominantly pasture-based diet.
Mating starts October 15 when they undertake six weeks of AI, before running bulls for a further six weeks.
“When selecting bulls, the traits we predominantly focus on are milk production, and udder overall to ensure they can cope with high production,” Bradley says. “The width and strength of the animal is important, as is keeping the rump angle wide so the udders can hang comfortably.”
With calving starting July 20, Bradley says they are very happy with the Monument Impression-ET two-year-olds coming through this year. “They are a really good line of heifers,” he says.
Bradley says their farm set-up works nicely with having two mobs on farm – getting the fat from the Jerseys and protein from the Holstein Friesians.
“There is a lot to love about the Holstein Friesian breed, including their overall dairyness, shape, angle and sharpness,” he says. “But the main thing is milk production, and having a good udder helps.”
The pedigree Holstein Friesians in the herd have come from a variety of sources: some have a few generations of history behind them within the Hasty Spring herd, and some have been purchased more recently.
Lightning Ridge Jasper Satin (Jasper x Leader RJ Satin EX92) was one of the last live imported animals into New Zealand and has made her home at Bradnic. She was 2014 Premier Cow at the Stratford Show, 2016 Queen of the Mountain and 2016 Holstein and All Breeds Champion Cow at the Egmont Show.
Bradley and Nicole also purchased 2021-born Lawwal Sidekick Plum at the Lawwal Legacy sale earlier this year, as well as five-year-old Okawa Clifford Natasha EX3, Honorary Mention Senior Holstein and Reserve Senior Champion All Breeds at the 2015 Waikato A&P Show.
Nicole has a unique cow in the herd that is close to her heart: Hasty Spring DR Tessa EX (Drake x Principle x Prize). She is now 18 years old and was their first Champion Cow, placing first in the Holstein class at the 2011 Stratford A&P Show.
Bradley and Nicole are still very much into showing, heading to local shows around Taranaki when the opportunity arises.
In March they attended the first annual Stratford Dairy Young Stock Show, exhibiting 13 head of cattle. Highlights included Bradnic Doorman Chantilly (1st August born Heifer, Champion Heifer, Supreme Exhibit); Hasty Spring Sidekick Potato (1st September born Heifer, Reserve Champion Heifer); Hasty Spring Blackstone Revive (1st July born Heifer; HM Champion Heifer); Bradnic Chief Cha Cha (1st August born Calf, Champion Calf); and Bradnic Voltage Rascal (1st September born Calf, HM Champion Calf).
Hasty Spring Polar Baxter EX (Baxter x Talent) placed first in the four-year-old class at the 2019 Stratford A&P Show/North Island Championships, second in the four-year-old class in the 2019 Stratford All Breeds, and Junior Champion at the 2016 Stratford A&P Show.
They have also seen success in the HFNZ Semex On-Farm Competition. Toi Toi Apple Twist-ET EX came fifth in the Mature Cow Category in the 2022 HFNZ-Semex On Farm Competition, the only Taranaki cow to be placed in the top six in any age group. In the regional competition, Twist placed first in the Mature Cow category, and Supreme Champion.
Bradley says having been through the show circuit for many years, he and Nicole are now keen to help youth participants do the same.
“We always have lots of kids helping at the shows, and we’ve attended the Youth Camp in a teaching capacity,” Bradley says.
He says being part of Holstein Friesian New Zealand has presented a number of opportunities over the years.
“When we were younger, Nicole and I both went on Holstein exchanges overseas,” he says. “Being involved in the Association allowed us to do that and we are really grateful for the opportunities that have arisen.”
Bradley is also a certified senior judge, a role that has seen him able to travel around New Zealand and Australia.
“I find judging dairy cows extremely rewarding,” he says. “It’s a skill to quickly rank a group of animals in a show ring, or on farm. I especially enjoy providing feedback to people about cows or heifers they have bred and highlighting their strong points.”
Bradley first qualified as a senior judge when he was 18, and in 2019 judged the national final of the HFNZ-Semex On-Farm Competition.
“I got to travel from Northland to Southland to judge the top two regional finalists in each age group,” he says. “It was a bit daunting to start with, but it was an amazing experience. It was interesting to see how the daughters of a range of bulls performed on farms in different parts of New Zealand.”
He has also been an integral part of HFNZ Judging Schools, moving on to become an Overjudge in 2021.
In the future, Bradley and Nicole are working towards improvement in all areas of their business.
“Our goals are to keep going and try to breed better: to improve individual animals so the poorer animals become better, and the good animals are classifying excellent,” Bradley says. “And of course, to produce good milk.”
|Owners||Bradley & Nicole Parkes trading as Bradnic Partnership|
|Equity Partners||Ross & Susan Johnson trading as Jay Trusts Partnership|
|Farm size||70ha effective (20ha runoff)|
|Cows||250 cows (110 registered Holstein Friesian)|