Farmers get credits for mutants
Dairy genetics company Livestock Improvement (LIC) has announced it will credit the cost of all semen and inseminations from a bull called Matrix responsible for a genetic defect in about half its female offspring.
Up until now, the Hamiltonbased farmer co-operative has refused to entertain any thought of financial compensation for the estimated 900 farmers affected by the mutation, which has caused some calves to be excessively hairy and prone to overheating. It has previously said it would not pay compensation for the 1500 heifers identified as carriers of the genetic mutation, because the mutation was ‘‘naturally occurring’’ and because LIC did not know about the mutation when it sold the inseminations.
Announcing the credit decision today, LIC chairman Murray King said: ‘‘We stand by the decision that compensation is not appropriate but the LIC board believes that a gesture of goodwill is the right thing to do for the farmers who have daughters of the bull, Matrix.
‘‘Since we identified there was a problem with some of the Matrix offspring we’ve talked with farmers who used the bull, and other shareholders.
‘‘We understand the impact and share the frustration of losing otherwise healthy calves and have considered farmer suggestions that it is appropriate to make a tangible gesture to the farmers impacted by this issue, over and above the free sampling and calf DNA testing service we have made available to farmers.
‘‘On further reflection, the LIC Board believes it is appropriate for LIC to credit in full the cost of every insemination made by Matrix, regardless of the fact that half of the heifer progeny are perfectly healthy.’’
LIC has previously said the first signs something was wrong with Matrix offspring came in October last year, and LIC stopped all sales of Matrix semen in November 2011.
Effects of the mutation include some of the affected animals being excessively hairy, failing to milk properly when they get older and getting into water troughs and puddles to try and cool their body temperature.
LIC has estimated the replacement value for each of the affected animals at $1300, which would total $1.95 million in compensation, but said no genetics company in the world had been known to pay compensation in similar circumstances.
GOODWILL: Livestock Improvement (LIC) chairman Murray King.