A VERY special sale will be taking place at Brunswick soon when the Italiano family, R & C Italiano & Sons, Wokalup, offers its complete dairy herd dispersal on Thursday, November 22.
It has been many years since a genuine herd dispersal of quality, well-bred Holsteins has been offered at auction in WA, providing buyers with a rare opportunity to secure cattle from the award-winning herd.
Retirement calls for brothers Joe, Peter and Tony Italiano who will be offering 140 lactating Holstein cows, 20 lactating heifers and 18 dry cows, to interested buyers at the Alan Evans Selling Complex in Brunswick.
Following years and generations of dedication to continuous improvement in their dairy herd, the Italiano cattle are widely recognised for their calibre by peers and industry professionals.
Landmark Brunswick agent Errol Gardiner said the herd had gained a well-earned reputation for quality.
“In the Harvey area, the Italiano herd is recognised by fellow milk producers as one of the best in the district,” Mr Gardiner said.
“We have compiled a comprehensive catalogue to aid buyers, complete with up-to-date herd data, AI breeding info and pregnancy test results to be available on sale day.
“The herd is Farm West (previously known as HISWA) recorded, so we can provide a catalogue on an individual cow basis with comprehensive records on genetics and production.
“The cows will also be ring sold individually so buyers can select cows of their choice based on breeding, production and price.”
The Italiano family has been milking cows in the Wokalup area since the early 1950s, gradually building its business and land holdings from the initial 10 acres (four hectares) and five cows that their parents Ralph and Carmel started out with, to 280ac (113ha) and a herd sitting at an average of 220 head.
Last year the family dropped back their milking numbers to 190 cows with all but a very small number heading to the Brunswick selling complex in a few weeks to be offered at auction.
The focus of the Italiano dairy operation has always been on quality, with pasture renovations and genetics investments continuing throughout the many years of farming in the Wokalup area.
High quality genetics and herd recording have played a crucial role in the development of the herd which has won multiple Dairy Australia Milk Quality awards, including the 2018 award in recognition of supplying milk with the lowest 5pc BMCC in Australia.
Tony Italiano said they had been herd recording since 1964 and using AI technology for many years.
“Corrective mating has been a big focus for us, matching the ideal cow and bull through the AI program we’ve been working with for more than 35 years,” Mr Italiano said.
“Our main selection criteria was protein, butter fat and high pins in cows and feet.
“Milk wasn’t really a high priority because we knew that would come by focusing on those other four aspects first and the results really speak for themselves.”
The Italianos have seen their herd improve immensely over the years with a deep cross section of quality genetics from more than 60 different sires from across Australia and the world.
Rod Brasher from Farm West has been working with the Italiano family for more than 15 years to assist with sire selection.
“The most important thing we’ve looked at in our sire selections over the years has been Balance Performance Index (BPI) which reflects the full range of profit driving traits,” Mr Brasher said.
“The result of selecting that way over the years has meant the Italiano herd is now in the top 10pc in Australia for BPI and in the top 600 herds in Australia.
“There have been no boundaries when it came to selecting genetics to further improve the herd and in recent years we have also selected on genomically tested bulls to keep in touch with the very best genetics and scientific improvements.
“The results of consistent investment in such quality genetics include excellent productivity, fertility and overall type and I think the herd has even more production potential going forward.”
Ensuring the health and well-being of their herd has been just as important as investing in quality genetics for the Italiano family.
“We’ve never taken shortcuts when it comes to things like drying cows off,” Mr Italiano said.
“We keep a close eye on our cows at all times and we utilise antibiotics, drenches and vitamins to ensure the best possible health and productivity outcomes.”
With the sale date edging closer, it is business as usual at the Italiano dairy, with no changes to the ‘grass first’ feeding program.
“Grass has always been the main focus of the feeding regime here,” Mr Italiano said.
“Over the years we’ve constantly renovated our annual pastures with the latest ryegrasses and a regular fertiliser program.
“For supplementary feeding, we use hay, haylage and high protein pellets, but the pastures we’ve worked on over the years are the backbone of the feeding program.”
Mr Italiano said the herd average components were last measured at 3.2 protein, 3.81 butter fat and 95 SCC with a 29 litre average for milk.
“Information on each cow available through our herd recording is available in the sale catalogue, but we will also be taking another recording on November 8 so those updated details will be made available on sale day,” Mr Italiano said.
Inspections on-property prior to the sale are welcome via appointment only to be organised through Landmark representatives Errol Gardiner and Lyndsay Flemming.
In another effort to assist potential buyers, approved purchasers will be offered terms of 50 per cent 14 days post auction, with the other 50pc not due until April 2019.
Those purchasers will need to have nominated themselves to Landmark prior to November 15 in order for terms to apply.
For further information on the sale, buyers can contact Mr Gardiner on 0418 900 032 or Ms Flemming on 0447 857 760 or alternatively head to the Landmark website to access the catalogue which can be found via the livestock, sales calendar then Italiano Dairy Herd Dispersal tabs.
The sale starts at the Brunswick Showgrounds Alan Evans Selling Complex at 10.30am