Achieving reproductive targets
The profitability of dairy farming could be increased by $500 million per year if industry targets for reproductive performance are achieved.
These targets will not be achieved using current knowledge and technologies alone. A biological breakthrough is required. The aim of this project is to accelerate genetic gain in fertility and manipulate the biology that underpins cow fertility.
Improving cow lifetime productivity
Little is currently known about animal wastage and under-performance in New Zealand dairy systems. Evidence from international studies indicates that the incidence of accidental and premature deaths and involuntary culling is unacceptably high and increasing.
If the international trend is followed in New Zealand, it is likely many more than 200,000 cows are lost each year for poorly understood reasons.
The Lifetime Productivity project will first determine the timing, incidence and reasons for premature death, involuntary culling and health-related productivity losses in dairy cows.
During the second half of the project, potential solutions to mitigate early animal attrition and productivity losses will be investigated in animal experiments and field trials.
The final outcome will be industry recommendations on animal husbandry, nutrition, and farm management practices that reduce premature mortality, increase cow lifetime productivity, and improve animal health and welfare.
Funding and research partners
This is a seven-year partnership programme funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through DairyNZ Incorporated with matched co-funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and aligned core funding for fertility from AgResearch. Additional funding and resources provided by Fonterra, LIC and CRV Ambreed support this key science platform.
The research team led by DairyNZ involves AgResearch, AbacusBio, Victoria University Wellington, Cognosco (a division of Anexa Animal Health), University of Queensland, Massey University, Monash University, University of Auckland, VetSouth and New Zealand Animal Evaluation.