By Weekly Times Now
BRETT and Judith Gledhill found it difficult to come up with reasons not to produce a2 milk.
Converting their 210-head stud Holstein herd to all a2 producing cows would not cost them anything.
And they did not have to do too much extra work.
They were not locked into a supply contract, nor did they have to change any of their day-to-day farm management.
And of course there was also the promised farmgate milk price “premium” once the Gledhills start supplying a2 milk.
“It’s a long-term project, (but) it doesn’t cost us anything extra at all,” Judith said.
“Because of the simplicity, there was no reason for us to not look into it.
“There’s a carrot at the end, more money … at the same time our milk is more healthy and that’s a bonus.”
Just over 12 months ago, the Nanneella couple attended an a2 information session at the Mulcahy family’s Kyabram processing plant. They were intrigued by the conversion process, the future of the milk and the a2 company itself.
At the end of the session they had signed on to convert their herd.
This required taking DNA samples from all stock to determine how many cows had just the a2 beta-casein protein.
The Mulcahy family assisted by removing hair from the tails of the cows for DNA testing as they were milked. The process took 20 minutes, with the hairs sent to New Zealand for testing.
DNA samples from all the young stock were taken in the yards and the results were available within three weeks.
Across the Gledhill’s Shayhill Holstein stud herd, 32 per cent were found to be straight a2, 49 per cent were a blend of both a1 and a2 proteins and 18 per cent were straight a1.
Judith said the herd average was 25 per cent straight a2 and the couple labelled its higher-than-average results a “fluke”. European bulls used over the herd had fortunately been a2 sires.
In preparation for an entire conversion, which they expect in the next few years, the Gledhills have culled their a1 yearlings and have been using all a2 bulls for 12 months, as well as a2 sexed semen.
The herd is currently classified as a “blend” so the Gledhills do not yet supply the a2 processor. “We breed cows year in year out. It’s just a matter of changing to different ones,” Judith said.