Tuesday, May 21, 2024

How dairy’s meeting beef’s needs

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Farmers face increasing pressure to find homes for calves because of new requirements around non-replacement calves needing a useful life.
GENEZ co-founder and general manager Ben Watson says science has proven that crossing a superior beef sire with dairy can produce the attributes prized by the beef industry.
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GENEZ supplies premium beef semen for artificial insemination, selecting elite traits for dairy cow reproduction. These beef genetics are carefully tailored to suit the dairy industry, but with an eye on beef market needs.

It aims to find answers for recent and future bobby calf regulations with a strong purpose around creating better outcomes for dairy.  

GENEZ is tackling these two issues by matching elite beef genetics for low-genetic merit dairy cows, yielding progeny tailored to the beef finisher market. 

This approach aligns with the growing role of the dairy industry in New Zealand’s beef processing, and caters to finishers that utilise these one- to two-year-old heifers or steers as part of their farming practice to enhance margins.  

GENEZ co-founder and general manager Ben Watson has been working within the industry good and dairy genetics space for many years. He has a family history in building strong genetic performance and relationships in both dairy and the beef finisher market.

He now has a vision of providing better value and more varied beef genetics specifically for dairy to ensure that progeny has a useful life.

He is doing this by aligning market demands while being mindful of environmental factors, ensuring progeny is fast growing, and creating a marbling beef product that has value. This will support lowering methane emissions to benefit both the dairy and beef narrative.

GENEZ has carefully chosen premium sires with the right genetic profile, focusing on enhanced efficiency, early maturing/finishing, and desired carcase composition. These attributes are harmonized with short gestation and calving ease, fulfilling dairy farmers’ requirements. 

This dual-focus approach aims to offer scalable solutions that deliver a premium processing product, attuned to market demands.

Watson says the science has proven that by crossing a superior beef sire with dairy the attributes prized by the beef industry can be produced.

“We want to scale this quickly, continuing to deliver more data from breeding, genomic and weight gain to ensure pathways can create transparency from conception to plate.

“Ultimately, we will bring all this data to a centralised point to continue to allow greater optimisation of the insights and entire supply chain.”

Farmers face increasing pressure to find homes for calves because of Fonterra’s new requirements around non-replacement calves needing a useful life.

With the onset of modern technology such as activity monitors and sexed dairy semen, only around 50% of cows are required for herd replenishment, while the rest, considered to be low-genetic merit breeders, are often bred without much thought.   

If dairy farmers can take more interest in beef estimated breeding values (EBVs) and intramuscular fat to consider the value proposition the beef market requires, it is better for everyone, he says. 

“The significance of beef genetics in dairy farming has the potential to reshape the industry’s narrative.”

Through delivering progeny with the right genetic makeup, growth rates can be increased, meaning less time for finishing is required. 

This is good news in many ways, as lower inputs mean less emissions.  AgResearch LCA calculations showcase a minimum 30% reduction in carbon emissions per kilogram of beef produced when dairy-beef is compared to traditional beef cow systems.

In addition to this is a possible 7-12% reduction available when breeding decisions are made with feed efficiency BV’s in mind, substantially decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This approach helps in the push to promote sustainable farming practices.

 “Of particular interest this season is breeding these elite dairy beef calves. To continue to run genomic testing, they have ensured that pricing of straws is strong to incentivise these first couple of seasons. This is a long play, but we want to make good progress each season,” Watson says.

This article first appeared in the September edition of our sister publication, Dairy Farmer.

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