The Prehen Holstein Herd of Stuart Smith and family, who farm on the outskirts of Londonderry, is again in the animal breeding headlines having produced the breed’s top genomic PLI heifer in the entire UK according to Holstein UK’s PLI genomic tested heifers list.
Prehen Perseus Froukje with a GPLI of £754 is the latest member of the high achieving Frouke cow family on the farm at Prehen to come tops. Her grand dam was also UK number one GPLI cow last year and her great grand dam, imported from the Netherlands as an embryo, has had a major impact on the Prehen Herd, not least by producing two number one GPLI cows and the well known Prehen Omen, who has been number one UK bred Top Daughter Proven PLI bull for this last three years.
The Prehen Holstein Herd has also bred the current number four UK bred top proven bull Prehen Frankel and the number one UK bred top genomic bull available, Prehen Lancaster, who is also the number eight worldwide PLI bull available.
Another Prehen heifer, now aged 15 months, is also current number two in the Holstein UK rankings having been top of the list until the current number one calf came along.
The Smith family have been producing milk and quality stock at Prehen on the south eastern outskirts of Londonderry for three generations. Today Stuart Smith and wife Monica, along with his parents Robert and Beryl, milk 170 cows though the sale of Holstein genetics is as important an income stream as the supply of milk to farmer owned Aurivo Co-operative Society Ltd.
To maximise the performance of world class Holsteins clearly high standards of husbandry and nutrition are essential. For Stuart that means rearing heifers on Volac Heiferlac calf milk powder from long term suppliers Taylors of Fyfin..
Asked why Heiferlac was used this past three years Stuart gave a simple answer. “We looked at the label of contents and saw the figures you need to rear the modern dairy heifer, 26% protein and 16% oil with 7% ash. Nutrition over the first few weeks has a lifelong impact on the performance of a Holstein. Heiferlac helps deliver that early frame growth essential to reach target weights at bulling and beyond.”
Monica takes care of calf rearing for the first two weeks after which Stuart’s father Robert takes over. Cow colostrum is fed for that vital first four to five days before Heiferlac is introduced and easily mixed at 150g of milk replacer per litre, the equivalent of 1.5 pounds of powder in every gallon of mixed milk. That is 15% solids.
Prehen calves are reared in hutches and clearly thrive on this milk powder with very high levels of dairy protein, lactose and a specially selected blend of vegetable oil ideal for the modern dairy heifer.
Aside from Frouke other key cow families at Prehen include Massias and Lady with sales of bulls into AI stations as far afield as Germany making Prehen one of the best known names in the breed.
Closer to home over 30 bulls a year are sold at Holstein NI sales or in the yard often to repeat customers . Around 30 calved heifers are also sold each year.
“That Heiferlac is doing an excellent job is clear to all when comparing the genetic potential of our stock with their actual performance. A well reared heifer is the foundation of any dairy enterprise and feeding quality milk powder from Volac is sound business sense,” Stuart affirmed.
To view stock visit Prehen Holstein Facebook and for further information on Heiferlac browse www.volac.com or contact Alistair Sampson, tel; 07860 626442.