DairyNZ, LIC and CRV welcome the Industry Working Group’s (IWG) final report supporting improvements in New Zealand’s genetic gain system for the national dairy herd.

The IWG was charged with evaluating the dairy sector’s genetic improvement progress and has put forward recommendations to drive faster rates of genetic gain in New Zealand’s dairy herd. All three organisations are committed to making changes for the sector’s benefit and will each consider the IWG’s recommendations.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the report is ground-breaking because it captures in one place the reasons New Zealand has fallen behind international competitors, while clearly outlining a way forward that can involve all sector players.

“It also shows New Zealand can catch up quickly by taking key actions and underscores the immense benefits to dairy farmers – including efficiency and productivity gains through animals that are more resilient, profitable and easier to farm,” Jim says. “Overcoming sector challenges to provide New Zealand farmers with world-leading genetic gain will require significant contributions from all parties.”

Recommendations include strengthening the role and impact of the National Breeding Objective (NBO) for achieving genetic gain in the New Zealand dairy herd. This will improve the amount and quality of phenotypic data collected from commercial dairy herds and create an environment that encourages and supports all sector players to use genomic technologies to make genetic gain (aligned to the NBO) as fast as possible. 

LIC and CRV also support the IWG’s work, with LIC Chair Corrigan Sowman and CRV managing director James Smallwood saying they’re pleased with the focus on transparency and consistency. “Genetic gain is a critical pillar in the future success of our farmers' businesses. It is only right that, where needed, we come together to improve the structures underpinning this success,” Corrigan says.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with DairyNZ to set up the right governance structures, workstreams and reporting mechanisms so we can effectively achieve the report’s stated objectives for the betterment of dairy farmers and the efficiency and profitability of their dairy herds to support New Zealand’s future.”  

James says LIC and CRV appreciate the IWG’s recognition of their focus on genetic improvement for the betterment of the national herd, and the important contribution of their combined work to date. “It’s pleasing to see the IWG encouraging the consideration of existing international models to help us find workable solutions.

“We both thank the IWG for the work it has undertaken,” he says.

The IWG was established in November 2023 to help the sector achieve world-leading rates of animal genetic gain. Jim says its report acknowledges the unique nature of New Zealand’s dairy herd, and other challenges including a significant decline in the quality and accuracy of New Zealand’s phenotypic data and farmers’ relative lack of confidence in the use of genomically evaluated young sires. 

“It’s good to have these issues recognised. DairyNZ thanks the IWG for this substantial piece of work and looks forward to working with all sector players to build an improved sector-wide system.”

The IWG plans to reconvene in three months to assess progress against its recommendations.


Page last updated:

8 Jul 2024