During recent years West Coast farmer Andrew Robb has milked up to 925 cows on his 365ha (effective) dairy platform, but he’s driven numbers down since, and today is down to about 700 cows.
This is made possible through a new online bull team builder. Instead of flicking through catalogues to compare bulls; farmers will have all the information now available in one place, says NZAEL manager Dr Jeremy Bryant.
“They will be able to visit the DairyNZ website and select bulls which meet their specific needs without compromising Breeding Worth (BW). Preferred traits might include enhanced BW, productivity, fertility, long-life, calving ease, conformation or temperament,” he says.
Once the most suitable sires have been chosen, farmers will be able to benchmark their teams against the Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) average, to see how their bull team stacks up across a range of traits.
Hauraki Plains farmers Heather and Stewart Fowlie have tested the team builder and appreciate its user-friendliness.
“I really love the programme. It enables me to move bulls in and out easily and see the effect of my decisions on team average breeding values and BW. If I want to strengthen udder traits in the herd, and also want to select say three bulls from the top five indexed bulls, it certainly is a quick way of choosing those traits without compromising overall team BW. It’s very easy to navigate and I think we will use it a lot,” says Heather.
Bryant says the team builder was developed to give farmers power at their fingertips.