The next generation of environmentally friendly calves has been born around the country as Kiwi dairy farmers continue their efforts to reduce their nitrogen output.
Hundreds of thousands of calves have been bred from CRV Ambreed’s LowN™ Sires since the company launched the product in 2016. For the 2018 season, over a quarter of all CRV’s orders were for from LowN™ sires.
With the latest LowN™ progeny now being reared, hundreds of farmers are well on their way to building a herd of cows that excretes less nitrogen (N) in their urine.
CRV has identified and promoted to farmers a team of bulls whose daughters will have lower Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN). These daughters are expected to excrete less N in their urine resulting in a reduction in N leaching.
Farmers who start a breeding programme for low MUN now can expect potential nitrogen leaching reductions of 10-12% by 2025.
Last season, Steve and Paula Holdem inseminated their entire herd of 700 cows using semen from CRV’s LowN™ Sires team. Steve and Paula are farm owners on 300 hectares in Mamaku near Rotorua.
“We farm in the Rotorua Lake Catchment and our regional council requires all dairy farms in the catchment to lower N leaching by an average of 35 per cent by the year 2032,” says Steve.
“We’re trying to build a herd that suits this farm, and works with the environment and this catchment. It’s about having a complete package.
“Our approach has always been to look at all the different tools, like feeding plantain, reducing stock numbers and grazing our cows off, which can help mitigate the effects of our farming operation on the environment. Using LowN™ Sires is another way we can do this.
“There is a reduction in Economic Farm Surplus (EFS) when reducing N leaching, but we could potentially reach our required target and have no effect on EFS simply by using the LowN sires.
“We don’t expect results overnight, but it’s important for the future of our business to be proactive and take a long-term view.”
Steve says another driver behind their decision to use LowN™ sires was the knowledge and expertise of their CRV field consultant, Seamus Lannon.
“Seamus knows his stuff and we have confidence in his advice. He knows his animals well and has taken the time to understand our farming business. We enjoy the personable relationship we have with CRV and we know we can trust them.”
Steve says that as sharemilkers they were chasing Breeding Worth (BW) for many years. BW is the industry index which ranks cows and bulls on their ability to breed profitable and efficient replacement dairy heifers.
“Times are changing and there is more to consider now than just BW. The longevity of our herd is just as important and focusing on maximizing each cow’s days in milk.
“Dairy farming today means achieving these goals while also making sure we tick all the boxes on the environment and animal welfare front. Genetics play a big part in that.”
LowN™ orders for the upcoming mating season are also tracking well, indicating that many farmers keen to use genetics as another way of minimizing the effects of their operations on the environment.