Thursday, July 7, 2022

Improving cow efficiency

A heritble genetic now allows dairy scientists to distinguish between efficient and inefficient animals.

DairyNZ scientists, in partnership with Australian research colleagues and genetics company Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have just completed six years research on the feed conversion efficiency programme. 

The study was done in a customised feeding facility near Hawera, Taranaki, and one in Victoria, Australia. 

The feeding facility in Hawera was specially designed to hold 224 calves for 50-60 days with automatic recording of feed intake and frequent measurements of their weight. 

“We fed them and then kept measuring how efficient they were at turning that energy from the feed into body growth. Then through further studies we found that the most efficient calves in growth are also best at producing milk when cows,” DairyNZ senior scientist Kevin Macdonald said. 

The scientists believe this could have huge significance on how farmers choose their dairy cows in future. 

“The results will effectively help farmers to breed animals that grow better and could give the farmer more milk but cost less to feed. That’s a win-win-win all round for the farmer,” Macdonald said. 

More information: dairynz.co.nz/techseries

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