By Rebecca Howard
June 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's dairy industry is investing $25.7 million in an innovation project to produce better cows.
The seven-year programme, called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, was launched at Fieldays. It will invest in new disease management technologies and advances in genomic science to improve cow productivity and produce animals with improved health, well-being and environmental resilience.
It is being led by Livestock Improvement Corp, with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries and DairyNZ. Over the life of the programme, LIC will invest $11.2 million, MPI is investing $10.3 million and DairyNZ is investing $4.2 million.
“For New Zealand to maintain its reputation as a world-leading producer of premium products, we need to further increase the value of our products in a way that improves sustainability,” said Steve Penno, MPI’s investment programmes director.
According to MPI's latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries, dairy export revenue may reach $17.6 billion in the year to June, up 5.7 percent on the previous year.
LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, will leverage its existing capabilities in genomic science and diagnostics to develop innovative breeding tools and tests that support more sustainable milk production.
Richard Spelman, LIC’s chief scientist, said the programme will "ensure that our consumers see that our animals are well cared for and have good animal health. That will really ensure that our milk and our milk products that we produce from New Zealand get the highest market value."
Investment from DairyNZ will go into re-building its national evaluation system for dairy cattle to incorporate genomic information to facilitate faster rates of genetic gain.
“Resilient Dairy is our opportunity to get back in front of the world with genetic gain,” says Bruce Thorrold, DairyNZ’s strategic investment leader. "It's about using world-leading bio-technology and statistical methods to drive the performance of the New Zealand herd forward."