Consumers expect a more sustainable approach to farming so we must continue to improve our environmental credentials. LIC is proud to be part of the solution.
Australian farmers are under pressure to improve the sustainability of their farms. LIC is committed to support these improvements and reducing emission on-farm, with projects already underway.
One of the main ways we assist farmers to reduce their environmental footprint is breeding high genetic bulls for artificial insemination (AI) and supporting dairy farmers to accelerate genetic gain in their herds.
Why high genetic merit animals are better for the environment
High BW (Breeding Worth) animals are more environmentally efficient than lower genetic merit animals as they use more of their energy from feed to produce milk solids, and less for waste. This means more nitrogen is being converted into protein in cow’s milk rather than being excreted as urine or faeces.
For each additional $10BW advantage an animal produces about 2.0g less enteric methane per kilogram of milk solid production. Similarly for each additional $10BW advantage there is also about 1.7g less urinary nitrogen per kilogram of milk solid.
To quantify the expected emissions and excretions of LIC’s AI bulls we developed the HoofPrint® which ranks our bulls on their offspring’s predicted environmental efficiency.
Breeding the best cows, faster
Breeding the best cows, faster is key to solving this challenge while improving long-term profitability.
The best cows are more efficient at turning feed into milk, they weigh less, produce more and have a lower emissions footprint.
Long-term users of LIC genetics have made good progress in this space. Data on NZ dairy farmers using LIC genetics shows that they have almost doubled the speed of improvement in their herds over the last decade. They are not only breeding genetically superior cows which are more profitable and emissions-efficient, they’re also breeding them at a much faster rate.
LIC is focused on helping our dairy farmers become the most efficient milk producers in the world. We are one of the largest investors in research and development (R&D) in New Zealand’s primary sector, investing 6.7% of revenue into R&D during the 2022-23 financial year.
Some exciting initiatives we are working on to support farmers in reducing their environmental footprint are:
- Methane emissions research – identifying a genetic link between a bull and the amount of methane it produces, so farmers can breed lower methane-emitting cows.
- Resilient Dairy research programme – utilising disease management technologies and genomic advances to enhance the health, wellbeing and productivity of the national dairy herd.
- Heat tolerance breeding programme – enabling farmers to breed more heat tolerant cows.
Read LIC’s latest Sustainability Report for more details on what we are doing as a company and how we are supporting the dairy sector to tackle climate change.