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All I want for Christmas is more AB

Media information

For immediate release

27 November 2014

All I want for Christmas is more AB

LIC is making plans to get more cows in-calf at Christmas in response to high demand for its short gestation genetics offering and as farmers find new ways to maximise the benefits this season.

The leading genetics supplier for the national dairy herd has already set a new semen record this season with 142,006 straws for artificial insemination dispatched from its Newstead laboratory in one day. More than five million straws will be processed by Christmas Eve when the peak time usually ends - but this season farmers want more.

“It’s been a cracker of a season here at LIC, and the massive response to short gestation has been a huge part of that,” says Malcolm Ellis, SGL breeding programme manager.

“Farmers first priority for the breeding season is to carry out the matings that will create the next generation of high genetic merit offspring. However, as they plan for zero use of inductions, empty rates are at the forefront of their minds more than ever.

“This year’s SGL dairy bull team will naturally deliver offspring an average 10 days earlier next season. That’s pretty significant for a farm’s calving pattern and production, and from what we’ve seen it’s not something many farmers are willing to turn down.”

Orders for SGL are more than double last season’s total, with more coming in each day as farmers incorporate the short gestation solution into their existing mating plans, either at the tail-end of AB before the bulls go out, or, somewhat surprisingly, after the natural mating period.

“Farmers have been quick to see the merit in adding a period of SGL to the end of their standard AB plan. The extra days in milk will be gold next spring, but the real advantage is the ability to take the pressure of the bulls. A 500-cow farmer doing four weeks AB often doesn’t calculate that there are 234 non-pregnant cows are waiting for the natural bull team. That’s 12 cows cycling a day. But by adding two weeks of SGL matings, the bulls will only be dealing with 5.5 cows a day which is much more achievable, and in many cases, a more economical option too.”


Traditionally farmers mate their herd to AB for a period before finishing with natural mating bulls, but the large number adopting a post-bull strategy with SGL this season has required the co-op to extend its peak AB season into the New Year. It’s something Ellis will be adopting on his own Waikato farm too.

“Starting AB up again with short gestation makes a great deal of sense to reduce the number of empty cows without extending the calving spread next spring.

“I know one farmer who is planning to pull the bulls out of his multi-herd 2500-cow operation on Boxing Day, and get the tail paint back out to restart AB for a further 10 days of SGL matings.

“That’s the earliest the bulls have ever been taken out of these herds, as they plan to operate without inductions next season. They are estimating 250 cows still won’t be in-calf at that point, but extending the mating period will result in 65 further pregnancies - and with those cows calving 10 days earlier next spring, calving duration will not be affected.

“If the difference in value between an in-calf cow and an empty one is $1200, then those extra 65 pregnancies equate to a $78,000 gross benefit with reduced wastage from empties.

“With my farmer hat on, those numbers certainly make the cost of additional AB straws look a lot more like a critical business investment, and I will be implementing something similar on our farm.”

The co-op’s SGL offering costs an average $12 - $17, based on the co-op’s Premier Sires sliding scale pricing.

Any farmers keen to receive SGL this Christmas should get in contact with LIC quickly so the co-op can secure an AB technician for their area at that time of year.


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