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Have your say on proposed changes

Have your say on proposed changes

Dairy farmers have until June 27 to give feedback on a proposal to change to a single national animal evaluation breeding index that uses genomics.

The sector currently uses three indexes to rank cows and bulls on their likely breeding potential.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said this created confusion and sub-optimal outcomes.

“We believe the best way to help dairy farmers achieve the highest rate of genetic gain in their herd is to have one independent Breeding Worth (BW), including genomics - and involving all the industry players.”

Genomics provided better and earlier predictions of the desirable and undesirable traits of bulls and cows and allowed farmers to make better breeding and culling decisions, Van der Poel said.

This was key in enabling the dairy sector to remain internationally competitive, and for increasing farm profitability and sustainability.

DairyNZ subsidiary New Zealand Animal Evaluation Ltd (NZAEL) was working on a single BW to inform consistent evaluation and better breeding decisions.

NZAEL would co-ordinate the single BW as credible source of data available to everyone to use.

New Zealand’s genetic gain has remained steady for more than 10 years and could be better, Van der Poel said.

“Collectively, through better rates of genetic gain, we could unlock potential additional sector profit of $136 million every year.”

New Zealand was falling behind other countries because it did not have a sector-wide approach and was not using independent genomic selection to identify elite young bulls.

“We can make faster, more informed breeding decisions that will help farmers increase yields, improve efficiencies and breed herds that are easier to farm and have a lower environmental footprint,” Van der Poel said

Visit to have your say. Consultation closes at 5pm on June 27.

by Sharon Davis