With winter around the corner, LIC says farm staff are busy tending to bulls to ensure they capture the vital semen needed for New Zealand’s dairy herd.
According to LIC, it's passion, knowledge, dedication.
The farmer owned cooperative is thanking its top breeders throughout New Zealand for their contribution to improving the national dairy herd.
The farmers being acknowledged have had at least one bull marketed in LIC's top bull teams, Premier Sires, in 2015.
"Our breeders are absolutely essential to the work we do to achieve continual genetic gain for the benefit of the country's dairy herd," LIC chairman and Nelson dairy farmer Murray King said.
"They are dedicated to breeding superior livestock and have a real passion for it. They have a detailed and intimate knowledge of cow families, and a good eye for bloodlines."
LIC breeders have a strong awareness of what the future New Zealand cow should look like, in line with national breeding objectives, King said.
"We want robust high-performing cows with longevity that every commercial dairy owner wants and is proud to own. In the current economic environment more than ever, it is important we have animals suited to New Zealand's competitive advantage – which is pasture-based farming systems."
Livestock selection staff at LIC identify New Zealand's most elite cows and arrange for contract matings to be carried out. On the arrival and genomic evaluation of bull calves, the best of these calves are selected to enter LIC's Sire Proving Scheme.
Their genetic merit is assessed by the milking performance of their daughters and other assessment criteria over a number of years. Bulls with higher genetic merit sire cows with better milk production and other desirable traits.
Only the very best bulls graduate into LIC's Premier Sires team. Their semen is then made available for purchase by farmers throughout the country, with inseminations by trained technicians. Premier Sires are responsible for siring about 75% of the dairy herd in New Zealand.
LIC currently has the strongest position it has had in some time on the national and independent Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list across all breeds, after lifting its Jersey performance significantly in recent times. Alongside top performance by LIC's Holstein Friesian and KiwiCross bulls, the majority of the industry's top Jersey bulls are now within LIC's Premier Sires team.
LIC is the largest artificial breeding company in the country and is owned by 10,500 New Zealand dairy farmers.