A legend of the New Zealand racing industry, who was also a well-known Holstein Friesian breeder, has died.
Charles Roberts died this week, aged 96. He owned Meadowlands Holsteins in South Auckland.
The stud was “the biggest town milk supplier in the Auckland area” at the time, according to close friend Judith Geddes.
“Charles was an amazing man. He was a hard worker who bred some high producing Holstein Friesians.”
“There were periods when the cows were milked three times a day,” said Judith.
A prominent cow in the herd was Meadowlands Larawood VG88.
She held the production record in the mid-1990s as a four-year-old, producing 15,550 litres of milk, or 1025 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in 305 days.
Her annual production never dropped below 10,000 litres.
“He was one of the early adopters of feeding maize silage to dairy cows,” said close friend John Rennie.
“His Ardmore dairy farm was on peat flats. He built herd shelters. That enabled him to stand cows off pasture and feed them when it was wet.”
The farm was one of the first in the area to get irrigation to keep grass growing during dry spells, recalls Judith.
Charles would often stay with Judith and Jim Geddes during trips to Addington for the annual trotting cup.
Judith also knew Charles through her 20-year career working for genetics company World Wide Sires NZ.
“Charles did all his own artificial insemination and used a lot of North American genetics,” she said.
“He was a frequent visitor to the United States. When I told him about a new bull, he’d check it out while he was over there.”
Charles was also a veterinarian.
He was responsible for post-race drug testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand, according to the NZ Herald.
He was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses and co-founded standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud.
It grew to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, the best harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia.