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BRITISH FRIESIAN FOCUS
In our 100th year
BILL FOSTER’S FRIESIAN BREEDING
I’
m very pleased to be celebrating 100 years of Friesian breeding. I look after the Friesian
breeding programme at Genus and am responsible for buying young bulls, assessing their
progeny results and deciding which bulls we want to market as proven sires.
I’ve been involved with Friesians for over 40 years, as my parents owned the Beltoft herd in
Yorkshire. Bulls such as Terling Bonus and Grove Brandy bred very well for us in the 1970s. Also
Collycroft Password, who we bought as a calf and later sold to the MMB as a proven sire.
I had some great times going with my father to Terling and Lavenham sales in the 1960s and 70s
and also the Reading Bull Show and Sales. Carrlox Emblem 14 and Shopland Edleet Ruth 6

were two
great cows that I remember winning lots of prizes in the show ring at that time.
When I joined the MMB nearly 30 years ago, they had some top Friesian sires including Foxhole
Panatella, Wraxcourt Bounty, Charvale Norman and Leighton Workboy,
ABOVE Bill but by the late 1980s Holstein sales had increased rapidly and Genus were
Foster, selling very little Friesian semen by the 1990s.
Genus Dairy
But there were still quite a few people that were keen to stick with
Breeding
Friesians, so we purchased Catlane Corsair as a young bull in 1994. He
Specialist
proved very popular and has sired many good progeny. Corsair is still the
RIGHT
number one Friesian bull ever proven in Ireland.
Lakemead
Catlane Corsair has excellent scores for the health traits, with very good
fi gures for Lifespan, SCC and daughter fertility, alongside good legs and
Rancher dtr
feet. The Friesian is an ideal choice for improving health traits, particularly
(P Rancher
fertility, and this is one of the reasons why some Holstein breeders are
Marsha) from a
now using the Friesian. Cull cow and bull calf values are also high for
Holstein dam.
Friesians. These factors have convinced many farmers that the Friesian is
a good choice for producing easy managed profi table cows, especially on
grassland farms where cows need to calve regularly and produce well on a relatively low input system.
In the past 10 years we have gradually increased our Friesian programme and Genus now test 6 bulls each year. We currently own
over 30 Friesian bulls that are at various stages of their progeny testing programme. There has been a rapid increase in demand for
semen; 10 years ago Friesians accounted for 2% of Genus’ dairy sales, whereas they now account for more than 10%.
The team of 6 bulls for 2010 come from the Oakalby, Trumpet, Langley, Skyhigh, Kirkby and Deangate herds, subject to them
passing all the necessary health and semen tests. Their sires include Grietman, Mr Frosty, Marshside Rocket 3, Winnoch Offi cer and
Deangate Centurion.
Inbreeding is becoming a problem in some breeds and it’s important that we keep introducing new blood to the Friesian breed.
Genus has imported semen from a few proven bulls at Dovea AI centre in Ireland, which have outcross pedigrees. They have sold very
well and Dovea Sem has left some impressive cows.
In the past fi ve years Genus has produced some high ranking proven sires with excellent proofs. Deangate Centurion, Lakemead
Foundation, Winnoch Offi cer, Catlane Metropolis, Lakemead Alphonso and Lakemead Rancher have all bred very well.
Lakemead Rancher is currently the number one PLI Friesian bull available in the UK and is selling very well for us – he is one of our
top selling bulls from any breed. Rancher’s dam and grand dam both gave over 90 tonnes of milk and his sire was Holwerda Torello
which provides an outcross for many breeders. I’ve seen some really good Rancher daughters bred out of Holstein cows, he is a great
choice for cross breeding.
Using Friesians on Holsteins produces hybrid vigour – extra production and better health over and above what you expect from
parent average. A study involving 76,000 Friesian x Holstein cows in Ireland showed an extra 190kg Milk, 9kg Fat, 8kg
Protein and better fertility due to hybrid vigour. A lot of farmers use other breeds for cross breeding, but the Friesian is a great
choice for using on Holsteins and allows the
progeny to stay full pedigree.
The Friesian is also creating increasing interest YOUNG IRISH DAIRY
around the World, with Genus exporting semen
to 10 countries in the past 5 years: USA-SA-
FARMER OF THE YEAR
Spain-NZ-Ire-Brazil-Canada-Aus-Chile-Mexico.
Holt Farms has been honoured with a visit from
The future looks very bright for the British
Bryan Daniels (left), Young Irish Farmer of the Year
Friesian and Genus are fully committed to
2007. Bryan was speaking to groups in the grass
help the breed continue to progress. Other AI
growing areas from Cheshire to Cornwall, taking
companies including Cogent are also buying
Friesian bulls.
in west Wales on the way and wanted to come to
It’s great to be celebrating the success of the
discuss cows. His knowledge and enthusiasm for
British Friesian over the past 100 years and the
grass as the feed for dairy cows was only matched
Friesian looks set to make a big impact over the
by the enthusiasm he has for utilising it with
next 100 years!
British Friesians! We hope very much to arrange a
Club visit next year to see for ourselves.
THE JOURNAL OCTOBER 2009 00
e5-09 Friesian Focus.indd 3 23/09/2009 08:41:38
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