Genetics will play a key role in helping farmers achieve a premium for their milk as part of Fonterra’s new Cooperative Difference Programme.
CRV Managing Director James Smallwood says it makes sense that farmers who have invested in tools and solutions, such as genetics, to produce high-quality milk from healthy and productive herds, are rewarded.
“The Co-operative Difference Payment programme aligns extremely well with what farmers can expect from breeding with CRV sires,” he says.
“For many years, CRV has provided farmers with a choice of sires that perform not only in terms of production but also from a broader health and sustainability perspective.
“Our investment in research and development is ongoing, with at least 20 per cent of our revenue each year dedicated to finding innovative genetic solutions for New Zealand farmers.”
CRV has led the way in identifying teams of bull sires that can help reduce cows’ MUN, increase facial eczema tolerance, breed hornless calves, and breed cows suited to once-a-day milking.
“Incorporating these types of traits over time into a breeding programme will help farmers future-proof their herd and their business.”
The company is currently taking part in a trial, measuring feed intake and methane emissions – in the form of burps – from 20 young bulls.
The next step is for both CRV and LIC to methane-test daughters from bulls that are identified as being high or low methane emitters and check their emissions are representative of their fathers’. Methane emissions have been shown to be heritable, but this needs to be validated.
Globally, CRV was the first cattle improvement organisation in the world to start large-scale measurement of the feed intake of dairy cows on working farms.
CRV is convinced that targeted breeding still has huge potential to improve the feed efficiency performance of cows.
In 2020, CRV began collecting the feed intake data of more than 1600 cows. This data has been used to develop a Feed Efficiency index.
“By using of some of these genetics in our New Zealand portfolio and in our breeding programmes, our goal is to reduce the cost of milk production and increase the sustainability of dairy farming,” says James.