From the breeding desk

Simon Worth - LIC Livestock Selection ManagerOne of the highlights of the year for LIC’s breeding team is the recent rounds of on-farm inspections of potential bull dams throughout New Zealand.

Following closely is the hosting of our breeders in May (who had a bull included in one or more of the 2022 Premier Sires teams) in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Breeders are the ‘engine room’ of the AB industry, so LIC’s Breeders’ Day is an event our team truly enjoys, and it represents an opportunity to show our appreciation to the industry players who contribute so much.

Avg udder overall of bulls The focus on genomic breeding worth is very apparent, but it’s encouraging to see exceptional depth and options across, and within, the breeds. Of particular note is the level of udder conformation LIC has available. On review, the average of the udder overall genomic breeding values (gBVs) of bulls available in this year’s catalogue is impressive.

There’s more to come in this space. The ‘pipeline’ is the description we give to those bulls yet to receive a daughter proof.

SPS Pipeline - Udder overall gBV The best of these emerging bulls will be selected for various teams, however, across the entire pipeline (and across 180 bulls per year), the trend we’re seeing in the udder gBV is also very encouraging.

The gains we’ve made over time are a consequence of a deliberate focus on the traits that farmers want. Clearly this is heavily influenced by the national breeding objective set by Dairy NZ (BW), but LIC’s breeding team has always placed additional emphasis on specific traits, such as fertility and udders. This is reflected in LIC’s internal index that we utilise for breeding decisions, the Livestock Selection Index (LSI).

Although LSI has put us in good stead, we’re eager to understand if this is still ‘fit for purpose’. On this note, over the middle of this year, we’ll be embarking on an extensive series of farmer meetings, and other forums, to understand:

What are the farming systems of the future? As a result, what is the cow of the future?

Clearly the answer to these questions will differ from location to location. However, we want to understand the changing landscape, especially because breeding is a long game.

The findings from this project will be utilised to help us shape the future make-up of our LSI.

I’m sure you’ll agree that in 2023 there’s an abundance of options across the breeds. There’s no doubt that a good number of these bulls are set to make a significant impact on the national herd.

I’d like to share my appreciation and recognise the excellent relationships we have with the NZ breed associations. These have culminated in a number of joint venture bulls making the grade through either the Discovery Project (Holstein Friesian New Zealand) or Jersey Future (Jersey New Zealand).

All the very best for the months ahead. From the breeding desk, we look forward to spring where we will witness the emergence of the new graduates (20 code bulls).

by Michelle Lamerton
International Marketing Coordinator
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