Fertility lift as young studs join sires
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.’’
YOUNG STUDS: LIC will add yearlings to its team of sires for the first time this season.