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Profit Maker® Herd Bulls
 

Scaling supply of high merit, high quality natural service bulls for our seasonal dairy herds in NZ has been a goal for many decades. The challenge being to do this cost effectively for a terminal sire that would likely only do one or two breeding seasons and be able to grow them out reliably very year no matter what the season. Genomic (DNA) testing is the game changer that has allowed us to go into our Farmer Partner beef cow herds and select from their bull calves with accuracy those bulls that could be grown out for our Farmer Partner dairy herds. Removing the need to record them like we do for our herd reduces the cost and we are only focused on a small number of traits. The beef cow herds have a long history of using our bulls and in some cases have purchased surplus females from us too so we know a lot about the herd. These herds all use Inherit Select™ DNA test to make their replacement so we now know everything about the individual females for 20+ traits. We then run our HD50k for $Profit genomic (DNA) test on the bull calves pre weaning and run our $Beef index which we developed specifically for use over NZ dairy cows to select the bulls. We then transfer these bulls to the Duncan family’s Waipu Feedlot in the Manawatu to be grown out to specification.

What We Are Selecting For

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1

Calving Ease

  • This is obviously the priority for dairy farmers having a calf unassisted leaving their cow in good shape for milking and rebreeding

2

Performance

  • Growth and Carcass Weight

  • Feed to Gain (KgDM:KgLW)

  • Carcass Merit (Marbling/IMF)

  • Carcass Yield

3

Convinence/Markers

  • Homozygous Polled (no horns on any progeny)

  • Homozygous Black (optional – all progeny are black)

Heifer Bulls

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We run an extra calving ease filter over the bulls and select a specialist group for those wanting to mate yearling. We are three years into heifer mating trials with Southern Pastures over 250 Kiwicross heifers on grazing blocks where they weighed all the calves at birth. We were working on ticking off two challenges:

  1. Calving Ease – the calves average just over 30kg, and the assistance rates were equivalent to their Jersey mobs

  2. Growth Rates – we wanted to get the calves, including those under 30kg to 100kg by 13 weeks to go to finishers, which we achieved with the vast majority.

Why Profit Maker®?

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 While the origins of Profit Maker® are based on retaining hybrid vigour in beef cow herds with the uniformity of purebreds, the other purpose being the blend of complementary characteristics of different breeds has proven to be a real winner when it comes to optimising performance from BNZ dairy cows. Combining the European/Continental breeds like Simmental and Gelbvieh with the British breeds like Angus and South Devon and overlaying selection for the key characteristics outlined above with the technology we have to measure and identify the traits really works. We are convinced that the beef from NZ dairy cows sired by these highly selected bulls will be more competitive for land use than our average straight beef animals. How can we say this? Well, when you put this package together and are only selecting for 4-5 key traits compared to our beef herds in NZ that have been slow to uptake the technology and are trying to select for more than 20 characteristics you can understand how this has come about. These bulls are also available via our Farmer Partners with beef cows in large numbers allowing for plenty of selection pressure and ability to scale supply to meet demand without sacrificing quality

Why grow them in a feedlot?

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We have been testing our bulls at Rissington in a feedlot since 2015 and counter to some people thoughts, the breeding ability of these bulls as yearlings and longevity is enhanced even when putting them out on the steepest of NZ hill country let alone a dairy platform or heifer grazing block. Optimal growth and diet ensures these bulls are in peak condition and delivered to weight no matter what the season look like. If dairy farmers sign up for bulls in the Autumn for Spring delivery, we know they are counting on them to arrive on time to specification to get their cows in calf!

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