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Dairy’s “green cow” and the licence to operate

Health and animal welfare traits will underpin the “2030” green cow, according to the Genetics Australia chief executive Anthony Shelly.

With a focus on breeding for these traits, as well as decreasing a cow’s environmental “foot-print” providing the key the livestock industry’s future.

“The community will grant us a social licence with a particular focus on animal welfare and we will need to demonstrate our commitment to these issues,” Mr Shelly told the 2020 Genetics Australia Online Conference.

“We can be naive to these facts, but the reality is our social license is in our hands and we need to put in place appropriate tools, and application of tools, to allow us to the be granted that social license.”

Wrapping-up the inaugural online conference, Mr Shelly emphasized the importance of breeding traits developed in Australia such as heat tolerance, feed efficiency and mastitis resistance.

He said using these tools as part of future breeding programs would demonstrate the dairy industry’s commitment to its social license.

Mr Shelly thanked all the speakers who provided insight on everything from the Australian dairy market, to the future of sexed semen, fixed time artificial breeding, fertility challenges and new breeding traits.

Looking toward the future, Mr Shelly predicted genomic sire usage would increase – following the global trend – while proven semen usage would decline.

The performance gap between proven and genomic sires will increase, he said.

He anticipated an increase in sexed semen usage, a rise in the tailored mating programs, combining reproduction history and breeding value information, while mating strategies using genomic information would be “normal”.

Mr Shelly said Genetics Australia was proud of its 53-year history but acknowledged there was still room for improvement in the herd improvement industry to strengthen it for the future.

“I strongly believe some of those solutions will be looking towards the future and identifying more of what will be required,” he said.

“The application of the breeding and breeding traits that are going to allow us to still be regarded as that clean, green Australian industry and one where our partners and suppliers from around the world want to be a part of as well.”

More than 300 people from right across the globe registered for the seven-week series, with 70-80 tuning-in weekly. Kongwak dairy farmer, Brian Anderson tuned in for the online conference and found it very useful.

“The calibre of international speakers has been exceptional, the topics have been fantastic and very informative, some of the data shows what extreme lengths the International companies in our industry will go to so they can discover new technology and craft the future,” he said.

“There have been many small tips throughout this series that have given us an insight into the one percenters in our industry that really give our business an edge and help build profitability.”

Mr Anderson urged dairy farmers and industry personnel to visit the Genetics Australia YouTube channel to watch the series, saying it’s a great resource that identifies with what’s trending in relation to genetic progression and farm profitability.