Retiring Bamawm farmers own country’s second top Jersey herd

By Rodney Woods

While retirement is in their sights, it hasn't stopped Bamawm's Bernie and Carol McManus from breeding the second best Jersey herd in the country.

Bercar Jerseys was awarded the second highest Balanced Performance Index ranking for Jersey herds in the country when DataGene announced the August Australian Breeding Values.

Mr McManus said it was a "great thrill" for his herd to receive such a status and explained the reasons for his success.

“It matters that we used the best bulls available and a selection of prodigy test bulls (for our AI),” he said.

“It is also a lot of animal management and animal health.”

The Bamawm stud uses AI only, despite rearing 12 bulls a year. Photo: Cath Grey.

Bercar Jerseys was established in 1967 but will come to an end when a private sale is held in October.

Mr McManus says whoever buys the herd will be able to start at the top.

“It takes a lifetime to breed a cow to get them where they are today,” he said.

“The sale gives the opportunity for someone to buy the herd at the top rather than spending a lifetime getting there.”

Bernie and Carol McManus with their high performing herd. They started the stud in 1967 and will sell the whole herd in a private sale later this year. Photo: Cath Grey.

With the farm only covering 36.7 ha, Mr McManus said it didn't take much for their profit margins to decline.

“Being a smallish farm ... we don't need much for it to go wrong,” he said.

“Low milk prices and drought are our main concerns.

“We’ve purchased more cereal hay (in the last few years) to feed the cows than we would in a normal productive year.

“If you stop irrigating you're not feeding the cows so we bought cereal hay in large amounts, which obviously cuts into your profits.

“It's hard to be profitable when faced with drought or low (milk) prices.”

Bercar Beauty is a four-year old dam of a bull called Bestyet. She scored a classification score of 92 points Photo: Cath Grey.