Op­tions for or­ganic farm­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

It just got a lot eas­ier to breed or­ganic dairy cows.

Dairy farmer-owned co-op­er­a­tive Live­stock Im­prove­ment (LIC) re­cently gained cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as ap­proved sup­pli­ers into or­ganic sys­tems.

Un­til now ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing choices for the coun­try’s or­ganic dairy farm­ers have been lim­ited to or­gan­i­cally pro­cessed se­men from a small se­lect range of bulls. Now the co-op­er­a­tive is cer­ti­fied as an in­put into or­ganic sys­tems, open­ing the door to more than 80 or­ganic dairy farm­ers to its elite teams of ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing bulls.

Gen­eral man­ager, ge­net­ics, Peter Gat­ley said all co-op­er­a­tive pro­duced se­men from co-op­er­a­tive bulls had been Or­ganic In­put Cer­ti­fied by BioGro New Zealand.

‘‘Or­ganic in­put cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is a lengthy process which ensures our se­men prod­ucts meet re­quired in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, for ex­am­ple that there is no GE (ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing) and that LIC’s pro­cesses and prac­tices are en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able.

‘‘Or­ganic dairy farm­ing is a busi­ness like any other and cows there­fore need to be prof­itable. Hav­ing the abil­ity to ac­cess the coun­try’s best bulls gives or­ganic farm­ers the same op­tions their tra­di­tional coun­ter­parts have – ac­cess to the best ge­net­ics to im­prove their herd’s pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity.’’

Be­cause cer­ti­fied or­ganic farm­ers can­not use an­tibi­otics for ill­nesses and hor­mones to make a cow cy­cle, breed­ing a cow which is re­sis­tant to disease, and calves nat­u­rally ev­ery 365 days, is of ut­most im­por­tance.

‘‘Un­der an or­ganic sys­tem de­sir­able traits will in­clude disease re­sis­tance (for ex­am­ple mas­ti­tis), fer­til­ity, longevity, high feed con­ver­sion ef­fi­ciency, for­ag­ing abil­ity, tem­per­a­ment, high pro­duc­tion lev­els and low So­matic Cell Count. ‘‘ The quick­est and surest way to breed an­i­mals suited to an or­ganic sit­u­a­tion is to use ar­ti­fi­cial breed­ing as it gives farm­ers ac­cess to the best bulls in the coun­try, min­imises the risk of an out­break of a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted disease and re­duces the hu­man safety risks associated with keep­ing bulls on farm.’’

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