Friday, 11 August 2023 08:55

Elite heifer team unveiled

Written by  Staff Reporters
The 2023 Discovery Project team consists of 31 heifers, sourced from 17 breeders. The 2023 Discovery Project team consists of 31 heifers, sourced from 17 breeders.

The highly anticipated 2023 Discovery Project team has been revealed, marking an exciting milestone for New Zealand Holstein Friesian breeders.

Celebrating 20 years this year, the 2023 Discovery Project team consists of 31 heifers, sourced from 17 breeders, all aiming to make a lasting impact on the AI industry and the Holstein Friesian breed.

This year, Meander Holsteins – owned by Robert and Annemarie Bruin, Otautau – stood out with an impressive selection of six heifers entering the Discovery Project.

Meander Holsteins has had a considerable number of heifers included in the Discovery Team over recent years, consistently showcasing their ability to produce superior Holstein Friesian livestock.

In addition to Meander Holsteins, Lawwal Holsteins (K & MK Singh), Payne Farms Ltd (Brad Payne) and Tanglewood (MB & NL Hawkings) have each contributed three high- BW heifers to the 2023 team, among others.

A joint venture between Holstein Friesian NZ and LIC, the Discovery Project aims to support the opportunity for breeders to develop top cow families and breed bulls for the AI industry.

Each year, HFNZ members are invited to nominate their high-BW heifer calves for the Discovery Project. Just over 156 nominations were received for the 2023 team, with 62 selected for genomic testing by the Discovery Project Committee.

Heifers undergo a meticulous evaluation to identify those with the highest potential for genetic excellence. Advanced breeding technologies such as genomic testing, Embryo Transfer (ET) and TVR (Trans-Vaginal Recovery) select the best heifers of potential bull-dam standard early on in their lives, allowing all breeders the opportunity to have their pedigree Holstein Friesian bulls recognised by the industry.

This approach ensures only the most exceptional heifers are chosen, in line with the programme’s commitment to advancing the Holstein Friesian breed.

Any heifer calves born within the Discovery Project are free from any breeding restriction with LIC and can be nominated and screened in the hope they will be eligible to re-populate the programme.

Thanks to the Discovery Project, animals that would have been overlooked 10-15 years ago – ‘outliers’ – are now being selected based on their genomic merit, rather than BW alone.

All members can nominate a heifer, not just the mainstream bull breeders, allowing members to make the most of the genetics within the Holstein Friesian herd book.

The Discovery Project has seen success since its inception: between 2013-2020, Discovery Project teams delivered a total of 73 sires into LIC’s Sire Proving Programme, with 17 of these sires going on to graduate into LIC teams.

In 2022, LIC purchased six bulls from the 2020 Discovery Project team to join its Sire Proving Scheme for the 2022/23 season.

The Discovery Project has also shown success with contract mating, with several Discovery Project heifers from previous years’ teams still being contract mated today.

More like this

Two hemispheres tied together through cows

One of New Zealand’s deepest breeder Jersey herds – known for its enduring connection through cattle with the UK’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II – will host its 75th anniversary celebration sale on-farm on April 22.

Farmers fined for cattle abuse

A Waikato cattle farming family have been fined $23,000 for failing to provide sufficient food and care for their animals, resulting in more than half a dozen animal deaths.

App trial yields promising results

An initial trial of an app, funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, has demonstrated significant results in reducing drench inputs during a small-scale study.


Celebrating success

The Director General of MPI, Ray Smith says it's important for his department to celebrate the success of a whole range of groups and people around the country.

Biosecurity award for M. bovis work

A small company which mobilised veterinarians around the country to deal with Mycoplasma bovis was one of the winners in this year's Biosecurity Awards, held at Parliament.

Cyclone's devastating legacy

One of the country's top Māori sheep and beef farms is facing a five-year battle to get back to where it was before Cyclone Gabrielle struck just over 14 months ago.


Frontline biosecurity 'untouchable'

Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard has reiterated that 'frontline' biosecurity services within Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will not be cut…

Machinery & Products

New name, new ideas

KGM New Zealand, is part of the London headquartered Inchcape Group, who increased its NZ presence in August 2023 with…

All-terrain fert spreading mode

Effluent specialists the Samson Group have developed a new double unloading system to help optimise uphill and downhill organic fertiliser…

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Plant-based bubble bursts

OPINION: Talking about plant-based food: “Chicken-free chicken” start-up Sunfed has had its valuation slashed to zero by major investor Blackbird…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter