Solution to inductions unique
Reducing the need to induce dairy cows has been on the agenda of New Zealand’s leading genetics company for 10 years.
The profitability of dairy herds depends on cows calving in time with the spring grass growth.
Dairy farmer-owned Livestock Improvement (LIC) has been working on a solution to reduce gestation lengths in later calving cows and thereby avoid the need for inductions.
The answer lies in a mix of management tactics and genetics, and LIC has been breeding a line of cattle with shorter pregnancies.
LIC general manager of genetics, Peter Gatley, said: ‘‘We saw the need a decade ago and started selecting animals which naturally had shorter gestation. Today we’re still the only company in the world working on this solution. Already the service offers a five-day advantage but we’re continuing to make progress and expect to go beyond a week to ten days and more.
‘‘We’ve also tested other breeds and have found a huge advantage in the yak but we need to improve the conception rate. This is another project which is well underway.
‘‘The aim is to enable farmers to use high breeding worth bulls to breed replacement heifers from their early cows, then short gestation or yak semen for any late calving cows – avoiding the need to induce them.’’