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Breeding ‘Green’ Cows for the Future

Australian farmers are being advised to breed healthy “green” cows to meet community expectations and take a long-term outlook in their breeding program.

Genetics Australia CEO Anthony Shelly said that even with the advent of genomics, breeding was still a long-term process.

“The results of the sire selection decisions you make today don’t impact on your bottom line for another three-four years,” Mr. Shelly said. “If you make a directional change in your breeding and assuming a 20 percent replacement rate, the transformation of your herd will be at least an eight-year project. So, when thinking about your breeding for this season, you need to think beyond the here and now.”

Breeding healthy cows now and into the future is one area that won’t change.

“When thinking about the future, one thing is certain: the need to breed healthy cows that meet broader community expectations will be the order of the day,” Mr. Shelly said.

The comments reinforce points made by Mr. Shelly at the recent GA 2020 online conference series where he spoke about the need to breed “the Green Cow”. “We need to be thinking about healthy cows that calve easily, are less susceptible to disease, produce less methane, are efficient users of feed, are more comfortable in hot weather, and are born without horns,” he said. “We have the ability to breed for most of these things now.”

Genetics Australia’s breeding program is designed to produce bulls that address many of the emerging issues directly related to farming social license. Mr. Shelly said that across the Genetics Australia sire line-up, farmers will find bulls that will enable them to start their journey towards “the Green Cow”.

“Genomics and the dominant inheritance of the polled gene have allowed us to increase the number of high-profit polled sires available today,” he said.

Bulls such as the homozygous polled sires, CFP, and NIPIT are amongst the highest BPI sires that produce 100 percent polled calves. COLUMBUS, TIRANO, and SAMARIA all carry the polled gene and 50 percent of the progeny of these high-profit sires will be born hornless.

Mr. Shelly said the introduction of the mastitis resistance ABV by DataGene was a great step towards breeding healthier cows. “By combining a number of traits with Somatic Cell Count, they have created an index that best addresses both clinical and sub-clinical mastitis at a genetic level,” he said.

FRANKLAND, KARAT, and AMALFI stand out as options for improving Mastitis Resistance amongst Genetics Australia’s genomic line-up, while MAEBULL is a clear leader in the daughter proven world.

Australia is a world leader in the field of genetic evaluations for feed efficiency. The feed saved ABV allows us to select bulls whose daughters produce more milk with less feed. MICROCHIP and SINGULAR are great choices for those looking to breed feed efficient cows. Both bulls sire daughters of average stature and size who consume less feed than their herd mates without sacrificing production. Aside from siring efficient daughters, SINGULAR is one of our best bulls for heat tolerance. Others that excel in this space are MAEBULL and the homozygous polled sire VOMEMPHIS. Even farmers in the southern parts of the country can benefit from breeding cows with greater heat tolerance.

“We have all the tools and the bulls to help you breed healthy ‘Green Cows’ today”, Mr. Shelly said. “It’s time to start thinking about the future!”