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Facial eczema tolerant bulls earn gold medal status

Image courtesy of CRV Ambreed

Two impressive young new bulls have been added to CRV Ambreed’s popular bull team that provides farmers with increased tolerance in their herds for facial eczema.

New graduate bulls Pukeroa Gun WALKER JG and Ambzed Powells CORTEX S2F have been named one of 15 bulls in the firm’s Facial Eczema (FE) team for 2018. They join the likes of popular InSires Lornlace HH DESIGN-ET S3F and Phaser F12J4.

CRV Ambreed Product Manager Oceania Peter van Elzakker says the herd-improvement company has offered semen from bulls with an increased tolerance to facial eczema (FE) since 2011, following research that discovered how to identify bulls with improved FE-tolerance.

“Now, about 18% of our grazing portfolio has increased tolerance to facial eczema, across the Crossbred, Friesian and Jersey categories. “The daughters of our FE-tolerant bulls, including Design, Walker and Phaser, are 25-30% less reactive to a facial eczema challenge than the average bull.”

New Zealand endured one of the worst FE seasons in years in 2016 when spore counts ballooned in the North Island and parts of the South Island to the highest in a decade, and many herds had a large number of cows with clinical facial eczema.

“That caused a tripling of orders for straws of semen from bulls with genetics for a tolerance to facial eczema,” says van Elzakker. “Tens of thousands of straws were sold in 2016 and 2017. We continue to see demand increase with farmers awareness around animal health and welfare increasing.”

CRV Ambreed’s graduate bulls and their breeders have been through a rigorous, four-year selection process, which identifies those sires with the highest genetic merit.

All the herd improvement company’s proven sires feature in the annual catalogue, which thousands of dairy farmers peruse each year to select the right genetics to meet their herd improvement goals.

Van Elzakker says dairy farmers want milking herds that are healthy and efficient, while improving the sustainability and profitability of their herd.

“Our new Better Life Health (BLH) and Better Life Efficiency (BLE) Indexes will enable farmers to rank 2018’s top bulls so they can easily and quickly choose those sires that will produce the most resilient and efficient herds,” he says.

“We have six elite graduates in particular in 2018 with outstanding BLH and BLE indexes. Progeny from bulls such as Carrick, Timeline and Classic will have a lower rate of health incidents, be very efficient and their daughters will be easier to manage and produce, with fewer health-related issues.”

CRV Ambreed’s 2018 proven sire line-up also features new members of the LowN Sires team – these are bulls whose daughters will excrete less nitrogen in their urine.

CRV Ambreed’s careful sire selection process starts each year when its analysts embark on a tour of New Zealand in search of our country’s best cows that will produce the next ‘superstar bull’.

In 2013, these farm visits saw the top graduates chosen from the many bull calves across the nation nominated for consideration for the company’s Progeny Test Programme.

“Our breeding team have specialist knowledge of cows and their families. Using this expertise to assess the potential of each bull calf, they selected a handful of bull calves to be part of our progeny test programme that year,” van Elzakker says.

“Once the bull calf has matured, its semen is carefully collected at our production and distribution centre. From here, the semen is distributed to our progeny test herds, where the performance of the daughters is closely monitored.”

Van Elzakker says daughters from the bulls are tested for milk production and type to determine if the bull’s genetics are suitable for different farming systems and environments.

“Based on that information, the top bulls are chosen as graduates and become permanent residents at CRV Ambreed’s production centre where they are given the royal treatment like high-performing athletes.”

Van Elzakker says CRV Ambreed already has a strong genetic offering for dairy farmers in 2018 and the new graduates are the cream on the top.

“We’re proud of our latest graduates and their breeders, and excited about the significant part they will play in securing the future success and sustainability of the New Zealand dairy industry.”

Source: CRV Ambreed

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