Options for organic farming
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.’’