Former farmer and pedigree Holstein Friesian breeder, retired CRV Ambreed field consultant, and AB technician
Bruce Hills has been part of CRV Ambreed for more than 40 of its 50 years in business.
It was a emotional day when Bruce, a pedigree Holstein Friesian breeder, finally sold his beloved dairy herd. As a farmer, breeder, CRV sales rep and AB technician, Bruce’s herd was ‘Ambreed’ through in through.
Alongside wife Noeline, Bruce founded the Ngahiwi Friesian stud on the outskirts of Cambridge. Over the next four decades, he bred a pedigree Friesian herd from many of CRV Ambreed legendary sires, including Firenze, Skelton, Pierre, Favour, Paramount and Paladium.
He knew all his cows by name and loved sitting on a fence rail and watching contented cows. “They were my passion – I just loved those days on the farm and really miss them,” he says.
Holstein Friesian’s were his dairy cow of choice because he liked the bigger cows and was particular about conformation and udder quality. It meant genetic selection was always based on individual traits rather than breeding worth.
“Type and temperament were very important. I had kids in the milking shed so I had to be able to trust the cows,” he says.
“Before we sold it, the herd was producing on average 450kg of milk solid per cow and was scoring on average 85 points for type – the top NZMI score is 90 points,” he adds. Born in Te Pahu near Raglan, he moved to a dairy farm at Rototuna at 10 years old, which is now a residential suburb in North Hamilton. As a teenager, he left high school to be sharemilker for his father, John Hills, and later in the 1970s bought a drystock farm at neighbouring Gordonton with Noeline. The couple continued sharemilking 200 cows for the Hills family.
They eventually sold the Gordonton property and bought 50ha in Cambridge. Later on, they added to the farm, buying another 32ha across the road and leasing some neighbouring land. After a long and hard decision, he sold most of the 84ha farm in 2016, and shortly after, retired from his role as a CRV Ambreed field consultant. In his seventies, it was time to change pace.
Today he is focuses on running his small herd of beef cattle – purebred Hereford and polled Angus-cross – on the remaining 32ha of the farm. He’s also continuing his AB run, and offers the odd bit of breeding advice to his neighbours.
“Farming is my life, and I’m so grateful of the opportunities I’ve had to share this with my family. Being part of CRV Ambreed has been a key element of my success and I encourage younger farms to take an interest in the genetic makeup of their herd.
Bruce Hills’s story is part of a series of client and staff stories celebrating CRV Ambreed’s 50th year of proven performance in New Zealand.