25 Jun 2009

Bull calf is first off-spring of new artificial breeding technology

12:49 pm on 25 June 2009

A bull calf born on a South Auckland dairy farm has been celebrated as the first off-spring of new DNA-backed artificial breeding technology.

He's the product of DNA Proven semen, which the livestock company LIC describes as the biggest advance in cattle genetics in more than 50 years.

That's because it allows the genetic worth of breeding bulls to be identified in a blood test, rather than having to wait two years to assess the performance of their off-spring.

But the calf's special status won't do him much good, because he's the wrong sex.

As a bull calf, rather than a heifer, there's no place for him on the farm as a replacement in the milking herd.

So his likely fate will be to join other bull calves in a truck to the meat works, to be processed for veal.

However, the farmer, Stu Lyons of Glenbrook, says three quarters of his cows were inseminated with DNA Proven semen and he's pleased that 10 of the 15 the calves born so far from that, are heifers.

LIC says demand for DNA Proven semen is running strong for the next mating season, despite a significant drop in dairy farmers' incomes from lower milk prices.