Good breeding and tweaking their farm management started paying off this year for Kaponga dairy farmers Michael and Kim Fredrickson, who last winter lost no cows nor calves and is around 16 per cent ahead on milk solids for the season.
They attribute the success to their breeding programme which they say they are now starting to see the results of, new ideas implemented such as adding biscuit cereal to their palm kernel feed supplement, and a new pre-season drench trialed which they tote as "phenomenal".
"We had tried a number of starter drenches, but never with these results," says Michael.
"The cows are more alert, more bright. Generally in spring you will drive into the paddock nervous that you will find a dead cow. This season, I never had that feeling."
This season is their first year into a four-year lease of the Opunake Road farm where they have been 50/50 sharemilkers for Gurt and Molly Kroon for the past six years.
They currently milk 180 Ayrshires, and around 20 Holstein Friesians and 20 Jerseys.
Their breeding worth (BW) is terrible, they admit, but adds that their philosophy is to breed cows that will survive their weather conditions and continue to thrive in adverse conditions.
"We are 400m above sea level and at 220mm rain on average per year. We build for milk and longevity.
"However, our cows will deliver 370 milk solids per cow per season mainly on pasture."
They just added a big tick to the Bowenlea stud name, started by Michael's grandparents Una and Geurt, in 1937.
As first time entrants at the the New Zealand dairy event at the Manfield Pavilion (considered as the national show championship) each of their six animals showed came home with a ribbon. Bowenlea Riggins Girl won first place in the junior Ayrshire heifer class. "We were rapped - just taking a ribbon is a great achievement," says Kim.
Farmhand Ron Baker with Larkspur CN Jo-Jo placed first in her class, senior yearling heifer, and won junior champion.
The Fredricksons continued their winning streak this weekend at the Taranaki Ayershire Club show in Stratford winning supreme champion with Bowenlea Riggins Girl and reserve champion with Bowenlea Groovy Polly and placed first in calf classes with their Burdette daughters.