Over the past five decades CRV Ambreed has worked with thousands of farmers to breed the type of cow they are proud to have in their herd, and that suit New Zealand’s unique farming systems.
CRV’s breeding programme manager, Aaron Parker, has been with the company for more than 20 years and says this year’s graduates and the 2019 bull team overall have surpassed the CRV’s expectations.
“Our selection process is extremely rigorous. Each year we usually choose the best 10 to 12 bulls from a pool of about 120 bulls that have come to the end of the four-year breeding programme and have herd testing and TOP information,” he explains.
“This year we’re absolutely thrilled to have 18 new bulls graduate, who will be marketed in our catalogue as proven sires.”
Looking at the wider team of bulls, which includes daughter-proven and young genomic InSire bulls, Parker says dairy farmers will have some great options for herd improvement this year.
“We’re a future focused company, always planning at least five years ahead to make sure we can meet the future needs of the industry,” Parker explains.
“We made a long-term commitment to breed sires that would produce healthy and efficient daughters. It’s really exciting to see that focus realised – our efforts have truly paid off and dairy farmers will ultimately reap the benefits by having better genetics to breed better cows.”
Parker says breeding for improved health and efficiency works.
“Analysis of herd records show that a sire with an excellence rating (five per cent or more) on the Better Life Health index will have progeny with lower somatic cell count and higher conception rates. If they have an excellence rating on the Better Life Efficiency index, they will have progeny producing more milk solids and lasting longer in the herd,” he says.
“Our Friesian bull Russo offers so much, with an excellence rating for Better Life Efficiency, LowN Sire status, and facial eczema tolerance. He also features on the Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list.
“It’s great to see Jersey bulls like Connacht with excellent performance for both Better Life Health and Better Life Efficiency and LowN Sire status also featuring on the RAS list,” he adds.
CRV has marketed Connacht in its InSire team of young elite sires for a couple of years now. InSire bulls are selected on a combination of parental and genomic data, and Parker says seeing him and other InSire bulls graduate validates the quality of CRV’s InSire programme.
CRV also has a strong Crossbred offering this year with five new graduates. Viking(J10F6) is exceptional having superior Better Life Efficiency, excellent Better Life Health, LowN Sire status and ranks in the top 20 Crossbred bulls on the RAS list.
CRV product manager Peter van Elzakker stresses that sustainable dairy farming cannot be achieved by index alone, and says more farmers are looking for genetic solutions to meet the current and future demands they face around the environment, herd efficiency and animal welfare.
He recommends farmers look more broadly than production figures and choose the right genetics to achieve their overall breeding goals.
“Facial Eczema tolerance for instance is extremely important from an animal welfare perspective, and reducing Urinary Nitrogren levels via LowN Sires is a great option to use for increasing environmental sustainability,” he explains.
“I think the Better Life Health and Better Life Efficiency Indexes in particular provide a great tool to breed trouble-free, efficient cows. In the end, healthy, easy-to-manage and efficient cows that produce well and are a pleasure to have in the herd create happy and healthy farmers. It’s a no brainer really.
“There’s a lot to be proud of this year looking at our breeding programme and the team of sires we have on offer for 2019. We will certainly add this to our many other achievements over the past 50 years.”