Thursday, July 7, 2022

Research and development, for the good of the industry

When it comes to major evolutions in the New Zealand dairy industry, there has been one constant for the past 100 years, and that’s LIC.

The dairy farmer-owned cooperative has been behind a number of initiatives that changed farming for the good, and this year was no different.

In 2012, the cooperative continued its investment of about 20% of its revenue, or $25 million, into research and new product development, but for many farmers it will go down as the year of just one sire – Howies Checkpoint.

Peter Gatley: Howies Checkpoint was mated to more than a quarter of a million cows over spring.

Genetics general manager Peter Gatley said the KiwiCross sire was mated to more than a quarter of a million cows over spring, creating an estimated 70,000 superior daughters for the national herd.

“With a Breeding Worth (BW) of 323, the genes he passes on means each daughter will be $160-plus more profitable than the base cow and that will have a huge impact on the national herd for years to come, as descendants of those matings go on to improve future generations of dairy cows.”

Other highlights from 2012 include:

– agreement from shareholders for the transfer of the 46 fields of the core database, which LIC developed in the 1980s, to industry good body DairyNZ

– sexed semen available to more farmers, with near normal conception rates

– a line-up of short gestation length bulls, which have the potential to shorten cow gestation lengths by up to nine days

– leadership in industry-wide collaboration aimed at improving the reproductive performance of herds across the country.

MINDA, long the stalwart of dairy herd recording for the majority of Kiwi farmers, evolved into a tool that allows farmers to manage pasture and monitor weight-gain performance of young stock, and among a large portfolio of research work LIC also continued its investment into realising the promise of genomics.

In a $20 million dollar joint initiative with Fonterra and the Ministry for Primary Industries the DNA of more than 500 dairy animals will be sequenced over seven years to build a catalogue of all the genetic variations that exist in the bovine genome, targeting the traits of most interest to farmers.

“The cutting edge of genomic science is being used in this research, which will improve the selection of animals and have a huge impact on genetic gain of the national herd from 2014,” Peter says.

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