Short gestation dairy genetics is expected to generate more than $11 million in extra milk production for New Zealand farmers this spring.
LIC experienced unprecedented demand for its extended range of short gestation genetics last mating season (Sept-Dec 2014), for its ability to naturally deliver offspring up to 10 days early, bringing late calving cows forward and increasing days in milk.
The farmer-owned co-operative, which breeds around three-quarters of the country’s dairy cows, had previously been researching the genetics solution for more than 15 years on behalf of its farmer shareholders.
As a result, an estimated 148,613 calves are due to be born an average 7.5 days earlier this spring, and those animals will have a big impact on a farm’s bottom line says Malcolm Ellis, LIC’s SGL breeding programme manager.
“Seven or eight days are pretty significant for a farm’s calving pattern and production, especially in these times of lower payout – because the sooner the cow calves, the sooner she’ll be back in the shed making milk.
“Cows that calve early can provide a range of benefits to the farm but ultimately it means more money for the farmer and let’s be honest, I’m sure they could all do with a bit more of that at the moment.”
The cows will also start cycling earlier and get back in-calf quicker, Ellis said, providing flow-on benefits beyond than the current calving period.
He calculates the extra days in milk to be worth up to $11.2 million in milk production this spring, or $75.60 per cow based on the opening forecast milk price of $5.25 per kg milk solids (MS) and the average daily production of a cow at this time of year, 1.92kg MS per day.
“Multiply that across 100 cows, and that’s an extra $7500 for the farmer. In total, short gestation genetics will generate up to $11.2 million this spring and after 15 years of research I am absolutely rapt to see it delivering for our farmers – now and for seasons to come.”
In line with the extra days in milk, farmers would also need to be mindful of the impact on feed in spring, Ellis said, but most will have planned for that.
Short gestation genetics options from LIC for the 2015 mating season are expected to include options for Hereford, Angus, Friesian, Jersey, and KiwiCross. On-farm results will range between five and 10 days.
To support farmers through the lower payout, and to help ensure investment in good genetics is not compromised, LIC is also offering extended credit and interest free periods for its artificial breeding products during the peak spring mating season, as well as interest free periods on automation and DNA parentage products.