Farm­ers get cred­its for mu­tants

South Waikato News - - FARMING -

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.

Fair­fax NZ

GOOD­WILL: Livestock Im­prove­ment (LIC) chair­man Mur­ray King.

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