Ben and Yvonne Lee weren’t born into farming but have taken it up with vigour.
After a rigorous four-year process, these young superstars graduated this year as CRV Ambreed proven sires, which means they are considered to have the highest genetic merit.
CRV Ambreed's proven sires feature in the herd improvement company's annual catalogue.
Global product manager Peter van Elzakker says they are sought after by dairy farmers in New Zealand and overseas, and their production and performance traits make them an essential part of the success of NZ's dairy industry.
"The genetic merit of these elite sires will ultimately ensure dairy farmers' herds will be easy to manage and efficient," says Elzakker.
The selection process starts each year when CRV Ambreed's sire analysts travel the country to find NZ's best cows that will produce the next 'super bull'.
Farm visits in 2011 led to the new graduates being 17 of roughly 1600 bull calves nominated that year for consideration in CRV Ambreed's progeny test programme.
"Our breeding team also use their specialist knowledge of cows and their families to assess the potential of each bull calf. We ended up selecting 150 bull calves to be part of CRV Ambreed's progeny test programme that year," van Elzakker says.
Semen from each of the 150 progeny test bulls was distributed to contracted progeny test herds around NZ. Their daughters were herd tested to measure their milk production and type, and they were evaluated for their suitability in different farming systems and environments.
The very best 17 bulls have now graduated – the absolute cream of the crop in the industry.
Van Elzakker says the new graduates add to CRV Ambreed's already strong genetic offering for dairy farmers this year.
"In the Friesian line-up we have a good balance of bulls fitting into all farming systems, from high efficiency bulls who will do a great job in the lower output category, to high production bulls that will fit into higher input systems.
"Our Jerseys stand out with a line-up of bulls that will produce a good size cow with exceptional protein and production, great conformation and superb udder traits."