They’re here – Kiwi-bred polled bulls

category Genetics

In a New Zealand first, from next dairy season CRV Ambreed will offer genetics to farmers that will guarantee the birth of polled calves.

This announcement follows the recent births of a trio of homozygous polled bulls as part of the company’s genetic development programme.

The company’s milestone is the culmination of several years of carefully controlled breeding in New Zealand.

CRV Ambreed research and development manager Phil Beatson said the company’s goal throughout its polled genetics breeding programme was to “breed bulls that had two copies of the polled gene.

“When the bull has two copies of the polled gene, you are guaranteed the bull’s progeny will all be polled as all get one copy of the poll gene. Conversely, bulls with only one copy of the polled gene are referred to as heterozygous and their progeny only has a fifty percent chance of being polled.”

The progeny of the polled bulls will not need disbudding which is a costly and time-consuming intervention that is increasingly under scrutiny. For instance, farmers with around 200 replacements in their herd can spend up to $1,400 disbudding.

“Farmers also require that their dairy cattle have reasonably high indexes. Our three polled bulls which have just been born are high indexing. Breeding polled cattle while at the same time having acceptable index is the trick,” Mr Beatson said.

Tokoroa based organic dairy farmer Ged Goode started using semen from polled bulls on his 750 strong kiwi cross herd this dairy season. He and his wife Liz are looking forward to CRV Ambreed’s offering next season.

“The aim is to have the whole herd polled and producing A2A2 milk,” Mr Goode said.

“Horns are a health and safety issue as far as the staff and animals are concerned.”

Mr Goode described CRV Ambreed’s announcement as “quite an innovation”.

“We’re very interested in it. We want to make sure that we have got the whole herd polled.”

Two of CRV Ambreed’s polled bulls are Holstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbreds and one is a Holstein-Friesian bull.

CRV Ambreed will continue building up its homozygous polled bull team.

The homozygous polled bulls will join CRV Ambreed’s range of genetics on offer next breeding season.

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