Genetics are helping Mark and Teresa Carter breed healthy and efficient cows that are not only helping them achieve their production targets, but their environmental and lifestyle goals too.
The Taranaki couple have been farming for about 13 years. They left their jobs in Auckland to return to the family farm in 2010. They partly own the 108ha farm with Mark’s parents Greg and Denise. The family leases a further 70ha and runs two herds, about 450 cows in total.
The Carters are working with CRV to breed animals that produce the same amount of milk using less feed. They also stay in their herd for longer, so they can lower their overall environmental footprint.
“With everything moving and evolving rapidly in our industry, it’s more important than ever for dairy farmers to lean on their partners for expert advice and guidance,” Mark says.
“Having innovative and forward-thinking industry leaders like CRV involved in our business is crucial.”
Mark says he understands that a healthy, trouble-free herd that efficiently converts feed into milk guarantees high lifetime production.
“Our production needs to be more efficient, but we also need to be more environmentally friendly. Genetics can help us achieve both those goals by shaping what the cow of tomorrow is going to look like, so they’ve got a big part to play.
“If we think about the outcomes we’re trying to achieve on our farm, we’re trying to breed an animal that produces milk well, but also has a great temperament and is a pleasure to milk in the shed.
“If a cow can turn grass into more milk every day, that can make big a difference to the number of cows we need in our herd.
“We also want cows that are more environmentally friendly. If you have a cow that is still in the herd at aged 10, it helps you reduce the environmental impact of your whole operation.”
Better cows, better life certainly rings true for Mark and Teresa.
“I think ‘happiness’ is the word I would use to sum it up. Everyone knows that if they’re happy at work, they’re a lot happier in themselves.
“A cow that is a pleasure to milk makes everyone’s life a lot easier, whether it’s the staff’s, the owners’, or even the vet’s.”
Mark acknowledges just how much work farmers are doing to minimise the impact of their operations on the environment, right down to how they are breeding their cows.
“I don’t think many people truly appreciate that or understand it,” he says.
“As farmers it’s about assessing our entire production process and farming system to make sure we’re producing milk as sustainably as possible, from both environmental and financial perspectives. And that’s not easy.”
This article first appeared in the September edition of our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.