Cohen Harrison might be only seven years old but he’s already making a big mark in Jersey breeding circles.
From Nerrena near Leongatha in Victoria’s Gippsland region, Cohen recently became the youngest person to win a class in the Jersey Australia Semex Great Southern Challenge when Krishlaye Topeka Belle 2 was named the three-year-old champion.
For Cohen, enjoying the wide open spaces of the farm and working with cows is part of his life; winning the title is an unexpected bonus.
“I like cows because they’re nice and quiet,” he said. “I like Jerseys the most and wanted my dad to get some.”
Even at his young age, Cohen is pretty sure what he wants to be when he grows up: “A farmer,” he says.
Cohen’s father Ash has a predominantly Holstein herd but had to relent to Cohen’s interest in Jerseys.
“We have about 220 cows, 90 per cent Holsteins,” Ash said. “The Jerseys are only here because Cohen wanted a Jersey calf.”
His interest started in 2012 when Cohen was just three years old. “He was interested from a very young age,” Ash said. “I really don’t know why but we had a friend who had both breeds and he saw them and wanted one.”
Cohen has told his family that if he takes over the farm the Holsteins will be gone, but in the meantime he‘s not going to convince Ash to change.
“It doesn’t matter what colour they are: if they’re a good cow; they’re a good cow and if they pay their way they’re fine, but we’ve always had Holsteins and I’m happy with my production,” Ash said.
When introducing Jerseys to the farm, the Harrisons decided to get genetically similar cows.
“We look for type,” Ash said. For both breeds they use predominantly Semex bulls but “if there’s a good bull with any company we’ll use it,” Ash said.
Ash has taken part in on-farm Holstein challenges for many years, including winning a state two-year-old title and other successes. He works alongside Cohen to make sure he’s on the right track.
“We’re pretty proud of what he’s done,” Ash said. “He’s too young to know the prestige in winning but we know.”
Cohen’s interest in the cows makes him an on-farm expert. “He knows all the cows; doesn’t matter if they’re Jerseys or Holsteins,” Ash said. “He’ll know whether they’ve had a bull or a heifer over the past three years; everything about them.”
While enjoying Cohen’s interest and success, his parents Ash and Jane won’t force him into farming, just like younger brother Raidyn who shows little interest in the cows.
“We encourage him and then he can make up his mind down the track whether it leads him on to the farm or he wants to go in a different field. We’re pretty proud of what he does,” Jane added.
Great Southern Challenge judge Luke Wallace said Cohen’s winning cow was well presented and a deserving age group winner.
“Cohen is a mad keen Jersey breeder and knows all the details about his cows,” Mr Wallace said. “It’s nice to see someone so young have success and be so passionate about it.”
The Jersey Australia Semex Great Australian Challenge is the largest judging competition for Jersey cattle in the southern hemisphere.
More than 150 members from the 20 Jersey Australia clubs across Australia held On Farm Challenge competitions during October 2017 to find the best cows in five classes; 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6+ year age groups. Those 100 cows were then judged on 22 individual traits in the Great Northern Challenge which covers Queensland and NSW and the Great Southern Challenge covering Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
This story was previously published in Leading Agriculture Magazine – Issue 26.