No com­pen­sa­tion for de­fec­tive off­spring

Live­stock Im­prove­ment Cor­po­ra­tion has ex­tended a small life­line to farm­ers an­noyed about de­fec­tive calves from com­mer­cial dairy bull Ma­trix. But the cor­po­ra­tion is still rul­ing out com­pen­sa­tion for farm­ers. Ali Tocker re­ports.

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Dairy ge­net­ics com­pany Live­stock Im­prove­ment Cor­po­ra­tion has ex­tended a small olive branch to farm­ers an­noyed about de­fec­tive calves from the com­mer­cial dairy bull, Ma­trix.

But the par­tial peace of­fer­ing does not in­clude any com­pen­sa­tion.

LIC chair­man Mur­ray King told the farmer co­op­er­a­tive com­pany’s an­nual meet­ing in Hamil­ton: ‘‘We fully ap­pre­ci­ate the in­con­ve­nience, in­di­vid­ual im­pact and depth of feel­ing that this is­sue has cre­ated and ac­knowl­edge that it has dam­aged our re­la­tion­ship and rep­u­ta­tion with some farm­ers.’’

King told the meet­ing sev­eral peo­ple had com­mented that LIC had han­dled the is­sue poorly.

‘‘Maybe we could have noted a po­ten­tial con­cern ear­lier but there were risks with that,’’ he said.

The risks in­cluded peo­ple po­ten­tially de­stroy­ing an­i­mals that were OK be­fore LIC knew what was wrong.

‘‘I be­lieve we had to let our sci­en­tists have the time it took to dis­cover the ex­act cause of the de­fect to al­low us to sub­se­quently help farm­ers man­age the sit­u­a­tion.’’

The first in­di­ca­tion of a prob­lem was re­ported to LIC in spring, 2011, and the co-op­er­a­tive started com­mu­ni­cat­ing with farm­ers in March, 2012, when it knew what it was deal­ing with. That in­cluded alert­ing them that about 50 per cent of the Ma­trix off­spring were af­fected.

Ef­fects of the ge­netic mu­ta­tion in­clude some heifers be­ing ex­ces­sively hairy, heat-in­tol­er­ant and not milk­ing prop­erly.

LIC has pre­vi­ously of­fered free DNA screen­ing to iden­tify af­fected heifers, and re­im­burse­ment for all Ma­trix se­men, val­ued at about $20 to $25 per in­sem­i­na­tion. But it has not paid re­place­ment value for the af­fected heifers, es­ti­mated at about $1300 each, or $300 if sold for beef first.

The co-op­er­a­tive could never guar­an­tee against ge­netic de­fects, he said.

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