Dairy breeding expert in the Naki retires after 40 years
It would be easy to say no one is more passionate about breeding better dairy cows than Taranaki’s Ray Lawrence.
After more than forty years working with local dairy farmers to breed healthier and more efficient herds, it’s the start of a new era as Lawrence retires from his field consultant and artificial insemination (AI) technician roles at CRV Ambreed.
His long association with CRV Ambreed began in 1976 when he trained in AI and began using CRV Ambreed genetics in his own dairy herd. In 1983, Lawrence started working as a Stratford-Etham field consultant and eventually took hold of the broader Taranaki region in 1991 as the area manager.
He has always been passionate about helping farmers breed a healthy, long-lasting herd through pedigree bulls, and says this is what motivated him to stay in the game for so long.
“There’s nothing more gratifying than to drive around the region each year and see the calves in the paddock that I’ve had a part in creating,” he says.
“Still, walking away from the relationships I’ve built with clients will be the hardest part about retiring.”
Reflecting on how far the dairy industry has come over the years, Lawrence says it has been incredible to see new technologies coming through that have significantly improved the industry.
“Tools like SireMatch that have supported farmers to breed from good cow families and prevent issues like inbreeding and genetic defects have been a real game-changer,” he says.
“I’d like to see the wider industry herd testing more in the future to make sure we all have access to better data and that we can improve our whole industry.”
Sales and Marketing Manager for CRV Oceania Mathew Macfie says Lawrence’s legacy will be visible on farms in the Taranaki region for many years to come.
“His knowledge of cow families and pedigrees in particular has meant that he has been called upon many times to help build the perfect bull team for many customers,” Macfie says.
“Looking around the dairy farms in Taranaki, it is not hard to see the kind of cow or herd that Ray is proud to have been associated with and help build.”
The next chapter of Ray Lawrence’s life will centre around family, including wife Joyce, four children, and nine – soon to be 10 – grandchildren.
He also has some long-awaited travel planned and will continue volunteer work with Lake Rotokauri Trust and the Lions club in Etham.
While putting away his AI gloves for good, he won’t be letting go of his gumboots.
“After all these years I can walk away knowing that I’ve done my part. But I’ll still have my finger in farm life doing the odd bit of work on my son’s farm,” he says.
Lawrence is currently imparting his knowledge with Daniel Crowley who will become CRV Ambreed’s new field consultant for the area.