The Cows of Covington
The cows are what its all about!
When the Baillie Family moved to Hillhead of Covington in 1996 they had no dairy cows. The dairy or milking parlour hadn't been used for many years. William started in early 1997 to buy cows from farm dispersals and at the local auction market. He built the herd to 60 cows in the first year.
When these cows had calves all the dairy calves were reared here on the farm with the heifer calves eventually having calves of their own and then joining the dairy herd. The calves that were born on the farm were all registered with the Holstein Society with our pedigree prefix Covington. This is how the cows of Covington began.
The Current Herd
All our cows and calves have been born and raised by ourselves here at Hillhead of Covington. We have 410 Holstein cows, 8 Jersey cows and 12 Jersey x Holstein. All the Holstein and Jersey cows have pedigree names, being named after both their mother and father. We have lots of cow families in the herd.
Once the heifer (young female cow) has a calf she will then start to produce milk and she will join the milking herd.
Every cow in the milking herd will have a calf each year.
Genomic Breeding - The Science Bit
All the calves are genomic tested. This is where we take a sample of skin from the calves er when they get their official ear tags put in. The skin sample is tested to tell the family ancestory of the animal. Genomic testing also gives information about the genetic merit of animals for key dairy traits. It can tell us if a calf is likely to have very good productive yield or a high butterfat of milk or even if she is going to have good strong healthy legs and feet!
This gives good information for breeding the next generation.
The use of genetics has greatly improved the dairy industry. This means we have longer living, higher performing dairy cows which are more profitable and much more environmentally friendly too.