Genetic selection more than just growing herd productivity

category Genetics

Selecting the right genetics is no longer just about improving the economic output of your herd, according to CRV Ambreed sales and marketing manager Jon Lee.

“Dairy farming today requires an investment in genetics and data collection that will enable farmers to understand their options to farm sustainably for profit, the environment, and animal welfare.”

CRV’s investment in research and development is ongoing, with at least 20 per cent of its revenue each year dedicated to finding innovative genetic solutions for New Zealand farmers.

“We have led the way in identifying teams of bull sires that can help reduce cows’ MUN, increase facial eczema tolerance, breed hornless calves, and breed cows suited to once-a-day milking,” says Lee.

“Being part of a global company provides us with an international perspective to environmental issues. For many years, this knowledge has driven our efforts to find the best solutions for Kiwi dairy farmers.

“Genetics takes time, and we are proud to be well underway in providing solutions for farmers now, that will ensure they are breeding for the future.”

CRV’s genetic research is sparking interest internationally.

The company’s milk urea nitrogen (MUN) research has been recognised on the world stage, receiving accolades from a prestigious International Journal of Animal Bioscience, Animal.

The journal has published an article written by CRV head geneticist Phil Beatson, entitled ‘Genetic variation in milk urea nitrogen concentration of dairy cattle and its implications for reducing urinary nitrogen excretion’.

Beatson’s work has been recognised as the journal’s article of the month for October. He has also been invited to produce a blog to summarise the key findings of his work, provide perspectives on the topic, and respond to researchers’ questions from around the world.

CRV managing director Angus Haslett says such recognition demonstrates international interest for CRV’s proposal that genetics to lower Milk Urea Nitrogen concentration (MUN) leads to reduced urinary nitrogen output from cows.

“Our LowN Sires™ are bred to lower MUN in their daughters which are expected to excrete less nitrogen in their urine, thereby reducing the amount of nitrogen leached from grazed cows.

“It’s great to see this work by Phil and his team now being acknowledged on an international scale, so it can benefit farmers both in New Zealand and abroad.”

Phil Beatson says, “I am delighted with the farmer uptake of LowN sires™ and having the international recognition is a bonus. I really believe we are offering a positive solution for New Zealand dairy herds.”

With nitrogen being diverted from urea, Beatson’s research has suggested that low-MUN cows partition more dietary nitrogen from urine towards milk protein.

This means that LowN Sires™ bulls and a low-MUN approach can be used to breed not only for environmental gains, but also possibly for an increase in animal efficiency.

Over the 2018 season, over a quarter of all CRV’s orders were for bulls from the LowN SiresTM team. Orders for 2019 are also tracking well, indicating that farmers are being proactive about minimizing the effects of their operations on the environment.

Farmers who start a breeding programme for low MUN now can expect potential nitrogen leaching reductions of 10-12% by 2025

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