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.
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.