Jersey breeder’s legacy recognised with award

The Brookbora Jersey Stud has been travelling in elite circles over recent years.

The Bacon family’s stud has been Premier Breeder for the past four International Dairy Weeks and the Premier Exhibitor for the past three IDWs

It has also been at or near the top of the BPI rankings and found great AI breeding success domestically and internationally with several popular bulls.

Being named as one of the inaugural Jersey Master Breeders reflects the lasting legacy left by Robert Bacon (who died earlier this year) that is being continued today by his wife Sandra and son Daniel.

Brookbora takes its name from the farm name settled by Robert’s grandparents in 1949 at Tennyson in northern Victoria. Today they milk 320 Jerseys, raise young stock and produce hay and silage on 293 hectares.

The Brookbora prefix was registered in 1964 by Robert’s parents, Norman and Margaret, and expanded with breeding and select purchases. The original herd was established in 1949 by Robert’s grandparents George and Jean.

Robert and his twin brother Colin worked with their parents before they moved in 1992 to Lockington and started their gradual retirement.

Continuing his passion for breeding and farming in general since leaving school in 1981, Robert and Sandra purchased the Brookbora farm and the majority of the herd in 2001, while Colin and wife Narelle purchased a farm locally and established their herd.

The stud has celebrated multiple successes over recent years and the family attributes that to careful breeding and a focus on developing strong cow families.

“When they started on their own, Mum and Dad purchased some of what they considered to be the best cows and families in the breed, to add to what they had bred, and we have continued to be big believers in developing good cow families,” Daniel said.

The most consistent long-standing families in the stud include Love Lies and Standard Lady and the Sandy family has been performing consistently in recent years.

Brookbora is currently working with more than 60 cow families across the herd.

The stud has recorded two home-bred 94-point cows: Brookbora TBone Bonita and Brookbora Vanahlem Estelle, and has bred more than 350 Excellent 90+ cows.

Cows of significance in the herd include Brookbora Love Lies 280 EX 90 (Quicksilver Royal), having a strong influence on the herd today with several consecutive generations of excellent cows; Brookbora Love Lies 509 EX 92 (Lemvig), successful at club level on farm challenges and the Great Southern Challenge with excellent progeny; and Brookbora Valentino Fair Mavis EX 93, was awarded All Breeds Intermediate Champion at International Dairy Week.

One of Robert’s all-time favourites was Brookbora Irwin Sandy EX 93, backed by another EX 93, then several generations of Excellent cows

The herd has been at the top end of the BPI rankings in recent years and has received the Platinum Production Award (previously Gold Award) for 29 years.

While focusing on the cows, the Bacons have always been early adopters of new technologies, using AI from the early days through to more recently adding genomics to ensure the best breeding results.

They have always bred for highly productive, sound confirmation animals that last a long time, can continually get back in calf and do a big volume of fat and protein while maintaining their health.

“It’s a combination of trying to do everything right — the right feeding, growing our animals, selecting the right bulls,” Sandra said.

“‘We aim to breed for a complete cow.”

The stud has also been successful in AI programs, with Brookbora Valentino Askn and Brookbora Bushfield-P being highly used bulls, along with the co-bred Pannoo Abe Vanahlem.

Askn has had use across North America, Europe, South Africa and New Zealand and Bushfield in New Zealand and North America, as well as in the local market. Vanahlem is very well known across the industry.

Sandra and Daniel say it is an honour to be part of the initial group of Master Breeders.

“It’s acknowledgement of a lot of hard work and some success along the way and it reflects where Robert’s lifelong passion lay in breeding good cows,” Sandra said.

“This recognises his legacy to the Jersey breed.”

Next week: The Nicholson family’s Jugiong Jerseys from Girgarre.

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