Breeding and Reproduction
LUDF breeding objective aligns to the NZAEL industry good breeding goal ‘to breed cows that are able to efficiently convert feed in to profitable milk production’.
Breeding Values describe the genetic merit of an animal for an individual trait (ability to produce progeny of high genetic merit). In collaboration with industry, NZAEL review the relevance or weighting of individual BVs included in Breeding Worth.
Economic Values provide an estimate of the value of a trait to a NZ dairy farmer. NZAEL review the Economic Values that feed into the understanding of efficient and profitability milk production. EVs are reviewed annually and Breeding Worth adjusts (February) according to changes to farm economics.
Using herd test information it can be seen which cow breed/type is the most profitable to be farmed in the LUDF production system.
LUDF Breeding Objectives
LUDF has a focus on a number of objectives achieved through the strategic use of artificial semen products;
- Maximising the efficient and profitable production of milk solids per hectare within the LUDF farming system by breeding for the highest possible breeding worth (BW) animals
- Improving calving spread through the manipulation of planted start mating date and the targeted use of Short Gestation semen bulls.
- Given the emphasis towards improving repro performance, the focus at this time remains to use Short Gestation at the tail end of mating to reduce late calving.
- The strategic use of semen products to meet animal welfare and value add initiatives. This includes reducing ‘bobbies’ by using sexed semen and beef breed near the end of mating.
- Cow uniformity
- Cow survival
- Hybrid vigour – especially the fertility component
To display leadership in biosecurity, LUDF have developed and implemented a biosecurity policy to protect the herd from disease. Therefore, all stock are artificially inseminated including the heifers. Bulls are only used on yearlings after artificial breeding program had finished.
LUDF focuses on a tight calving spread derived through the use of short gestation semen at the tail end of mating. This results in less wastage from animals not getting in calf in time.
Sexed Liquid Semen and semen from available beef bulls, is also used to minimise the number of ‘Bobbies’ and to enhance the value of all progeny animals.
The priority focus is less about breed 16th and more about the efficient production of fat and protein relative to live weight.
Breed 16th will drive mating decisions towards the most efficient converter of feed into profitable milk production.
Industry changes to the value of fat and protein are reflected in the breed makeup of the bull team.
LUDF Mating plan 2022
In the 2022/22 season, Allflex collars were installed which has the potential to provide more accurate heat detection and could save on labour, especially when bulls are not being used near the end of mating.
- Planed start of mating heifers: 18th October
- Planed start of mating mixed age cows: 23rd October
Yearling stock were mated using artificial breeding and a CIDR program. Any heifers not in calf through artificial insemination were mated with a bull.
Mating plan benefits
- Increased days in milk from shorter calving period.
- Beef calves and high quality heifer replacements to sell as calves providing an income for the farm.
- Estimated 20% of progeny to categorise as ‘Bobbie’ (versus 65%+ in historical mating program).
- All mating with A2A2 bulls, increasing A2 frequency in calves which provides a higher milk premium.
- Targeted breed closer to Jersey and generating more income due to milk fat price being higher than protein.
LUDF Mating Benchmarking Project
For the 2021 mating season, LUDF had yet another very high empty rate of 20%, following 18% in 2020. To help us determine what the issues are, a benchmarking project has been set up against top quartile local performing farmer, Liam Kelly.