Bull burps may hold the answer to breeding climate-friendly cows

A Waikato trial’s discovery of a possible link between bulls’ genetics and the amount of methane they produce raises that New Zealand dairy farmers might be able to breed

The pilot trial, by artificial breeding companies LIC and CRV with funding from the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, measured feed intake and methane emissions – in the form of burps – from 20 young bulls destined to father the next generation of New Zealand’s dairy cows.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says results from the pilot trial are promising.

“Methane production primarily relates to how much an animal eats. We’ve accounted for this and we’re still seeing variation which suggests genetics plays a role in a dairy bull’s methane emissions – now we need more data to prove it.” Continue reading

Agriculture Minister visits LIC to check out its genomic analysis technology

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today visited LIC to view its herd testing facilities and new multi-million genomic analysis technology which will ultimately put the dairy industry in a stronger position as it prepares for its role in New Zealand’s economic recovery after COVID-19.

The Minister toured LIC’s Riverlea Road herd testing and GeneMark facility in Hamilton with LIC’s Chief Executive, Wayne McNee, Chief Scientist Richard Spelman and General Manager Operations and Service David Chin.  He was impressed with the delivery capabilities of the new equipment installed just last week which will test around 300,000 calves this spring, delivering significant benefits to farmers and ultimately New Zealand.

LIC’s Wayne McNee says the newly-installed Illumina technology from the USA will enable dairy farmers to better identify their most productive animals and reduce the risk of culling offspring of top-performing cows. Continue reading

Dairy industry receives boost with $25 million sustainable innovation programme

A new $25.68 million innovation programme for New Zealand’s dairy industry will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and be a step-change in sustainable milk production.  

The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, launched today and is being led by farmer-owned herd improvement co-operative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ.

It will invest in new disease management technologies and advancements in genomic science to improve cow productivity, and produce better cows with improved health, well-being, and environmental resilience.

The programme was officially launched at the National Fieldays today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
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