Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Colin William Holmes (died 07 June 2016, aged 74)

An obituary, which was provided by Colin Holmes' classmate Andrew White, can be found here. A further appreciation can also be found at

Colin William Holmes was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in December 1941 where his Northern Irish father was in the Colonial Civil Service. In 1951, the family moved back to Co Antrim where they lived on a small farm, running pigs, sheep, and beef cattle.

After school in Enniskillen and a Bachelor of Agriculture degree at Queen’s in 1963, he completed his PhD in 1966 before accepting a lecturing position in the Department of Dairy Husbandry at Massey University in New Zealand.

Colin played an integral role in the debate regarding the optimal size of dairy cows for efficient production of milksolids and established a trial with Livestock Improvement Corporation to select for large and small cow sizes. This trial had direct relevance to the Animal Evaluation System which was introduced in 1996.

Professor Holmes spent 40 years teaching diploma and degree courses and postgraduate students. He is widely regarded throughout the dairy industry both nationally and internationally. In 1999, he became the inaugural Professor of Dairy Production Systems at Massey University. He retired in 2007.

His many awards included the McMeekan Memorial Award, the Sir Arthur Ward award and a lifetime achievement award at the National Dairy Excellence Awards in 2009. As a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to agriculture, his work a researcher and as a teacher, contributed greatly to agriculture in New Zealand and the world.

He is also the author of the dairy farmers ‘bible’ – Milk Production from Pasture: Principles and Practices – which is still widely used today.

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