Fer­til­ity lift as young studs join sires

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

The team of bulls that sires most of New Zealand’s dairy cows will this year in­clude year­lings for the first time since Premier Sires was launched 60 years ago.

Peter Gat­ley, gen­eral man­ager ge­net­ics for LIC, said ‘ ‘ ge­netic merit im­proves with ev­ery gen­er­a­tion, so the youngest an­i­mals carry the best genes but, un­til now, the prob­lem has been that progeny test­ing took four years to mea­sure their per­for­mance.

Now DNA anal­y­sis, or ge­nomics, iden­ti­fies the cream of the crop within a few weeks of birth.

‘‘The young­sters can pro­duce se­men at 12 months of age so that’s just in time for the spring mat­ing sea­son.

‘‘We use the se­men fresh rather than frozen in liq­uid ni­tro­gen so we get 10 times the num­ber of straws and that means ev­ery farmer can use the very best bulls.’’

Ge­nomic technology is be­ing ap­plied by ge­net­ics com­pa­nies all over the world and, de­spite a ten­dency to over-es­ti­mate gen- etic merit, the ben­e­fits are sig­nif­i­cant.

Mr Gat­ley said sci­en­tists had re­viewed the per­for­mance in New Zealand and the com­pany had worked closely with NZ An­i­mal Eval­u­a­tion Ltd, the in­de­pen­dent pan-in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tion that is­sued the eval­u­a­tions.

In line with their ad­vice, LIC had de­ducted 20 Breed­ing Worth units from the team av­er­ages and Mr Gat­ley pointed out that this still put the ‘‘DNA Proven’’ bulls well in front of their older ‘ ‘ Daugh­ter Proven’’ coun­ter­parts.

‘ ‘ Af­ter the ad­just­ment there are still be­tween 21 and 40 BW ad­van­tage depend­ing on breed. If want your herd in the top 10 per cent, or even the up­per quar­tile, you’ll find it very dif­fi­cult un­less you’re us­ing ge­nomic se­lec­tion.

‘‘Ev­ery BW unit is worth mil­lions in net farm profit so this is a mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion for the in­dus­try.’’

Photo: SUPPLIED

YOUNG STUDS: LIC will add year­lings to its team of sires for the first time this sea­son.

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