Friday, February 23, 2024

Better beef pilot selects its first farmers

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High-quality genetics the focus of seven-year programme.
Hawke’s Bay farmer Patrick Crawshaw says the ground-breaking programme is an opportunity to change the beef industry and make it more competitive in land use terms.
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The first commercial beef farmers have been selected for a new industry programme aimed at boosting the sector’s profits by $460 million over the next 25 years.

The ground-breaking Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme is a seven-year partnership supported by Beef and Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

Focused on the increasing uptake of high-quality genetics in the beef industry, the four main components of the programme are: 

• Developing NZ-specific breeding indexes;
• Building an across-breed genetic evaluation and data infrastructure;
• Running a beef progeny test; and 
• Linking in data from commercial herds.

The 10 commercial farmers selected for the pilot programme will provide accurate pedigree recording, assess bull teams’ performances, ensure accurate information for heifer replacement selection and work with their bull breeders to make more rapid genetic progress.

Farmers will also be able to benchmark their herd against others involved in the programme. 

“We’re on a mission to give breeders and farmers genetic tools to help produce great-tasting beef and drive production efficiency,” INZB programme spokesperson Gemma Jenkins said.

“We want commercial farmers to understand the value of better genetics and be able to easily select the right genetics for their system to drive greater profitability.

“The commercial farms participating in this initiative are a critical part of the project because they will contribute to the accuracy of breeding values of stud bulls available to commercial farmers.”

Hawke’s Bay farmer Patrick Crawshaw is among those selected. 

Crawshaw grew up in the beef sector with his father’s Kendhardt Angus stud in Nūhaka, Hawke’s Bay, breeding Angus cattle for more than 50 years. 

He and his wife Isabelle now farm at Patoka and have a commercial breeding cow herd and finish lamb and cattle. 

“This is an opportunity to be able to change the beef industry for the better and make it a more competitive land use so I am very happy to help on that journey,” Crawshaw said. 

“As a farmer, I welcome the openness of the project and the ability to get a big volume of information and data into analysis to be able to validate and challenge what we believe is efficiency. 

“I want to play my part in challenging and stimulating the beef industry, and create gains for the sector.” 

Crawshaw is particularly excited about the opportunities to link the genetic situation to production outcomes and to increase the reproduction rate-calving percentage of breeding cows. 

“There are huge gains to be made there and also the opportunity to compare not just within one breed, like Angus, Charolais or Simmental, but to compare across all breeds. 

“That is a necessity for the beef industry to make those production gains we desperately need,” he said.

INZB is setting up a template.

“If we make it as simple and streamlined as possible for other commercial farmers to pick up, that will help us get that accurate data we desperately need for the beef industry to enable us to make gains and to be competitive as a land use and enterprise mix in commercial farming situations,” Crawshaw said.

The INZB programme aims to take on board 10 commercial farmers with a passion for genetics each year. 

Those selected adopt a recording schedule across the year and can also, if they wish, carry out genotyping of their cow herd and, on an annual basis, calves and sires. 

Any commercial beef farmer interested in joining the programme can register an expression of interest by December 30 here.

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