Wednesday, 18 September 2019 11:55

Environmentally friendly calves

Written by  Staff Reporters
Steve and Paula Holdem, Mamaku. Steve and Paula Holdem, Mamaku.

Nitrogen leaching on many dairy farms is reducing as the farmers breed from LowN Sires bulls, says the marketer CRV Ambreed.

The company says “hundreds of thousands of calves” have been bred from its LowN Sires, launched in 2016. In the 2018 season at least 25% of CRV’s orders were for LowN sires, it says. 

The LowN progeny excrete less nitrogen (N) in their urine, the company says. Its bulls produce daughters with lower milk urea nitrogen (MUN), and the result is a reduction in N leaching.

Farmers who start breeding now for low MUN can expect potential nitrogen leaching reductions of 10-12% by 2025, says CRV Ambreed.

Steve and Paula Holdem last season inseminated their 700 cows using semen from CRV’s LowN Sires. The Holdems own and farm 300ha in Mamaku, near Rotorua. 

“We farm in the Rotorua lake catchment and our regional council requires all dairy farms in the catchment to lower N leaching by an average of 35% by the year 2032,” said Steve. 

“We’re trying to build a herd that suits this farm, and works with the environment and this catchment. 

“Our approach has always been to look at all the different tools, eg feeding plantain, reducing stock numbers and grazing our cows off, which can help mitigate our farming operation’s effects on the environment. Using LowN Sires is another way we can do this.

“There is a reduction in economic farm surplus (EFS) when reducing N leaching, but we could potentially reach our required target and have no effect on EFS simply by using the LowN sires.”

Holdem says they don’t expect results overnight.

“But it’s important for the future of our business to be proactive and take a long term view.”

Steve says that as sharemilkers they were chasing breeding worth (BW) for many years. 

“[But] times are changing and there is more to consider now than just BW. The longevity of our herd is just as important and focusing on maximizing each cow’s days in milk. 

“Dairy farming today means achieving these goals while also making sure we tick all the boxes on the environment and animal welfare front. Genetics play a big part in that.”

More like this

Nitrogen caps bound to fail

The Government’s decision to cap nitrogen fertiliser inputs at 190 kg N/ha per year is doomed to fail because it ignores basic science, claims soil scientist Doug Edmeades.

Featured

 

Being a good boss during calving

Despite it being a busy time, being a good boss during calving is absolutely achievable, says DairyNZ’s People Team leader Jane Muir.

SFOTY in hot water over social media posts

Organisers of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards are investigating unsavoury social media comments allegedly made by the newly crowned 2020 Share Farmer of the Year, Nick Bertram.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

A ticking timebomb?

There could be another dairy health scare brewing in China and this one starts in our backyard.

Please explain

Does anyone in the Government understand the essential role St John Ambulance has in our society?

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter