2 Jun 2015

High hopes for new calf feed

2:17 pm on 2 June 2015

New economic research predicts a supplementary feed programme for calves could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the economy each year.

Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) has published the research on Queen of Calves, which is a marine and land plant-based nutrition programme for calves.

Massey University has undertaken a seven year study on Queen of Calves which shows calves that are fed it grow bigger and faster and produce, on average, 30 kilograms of milk solids more than calves that are not.

BERL director Kel Sanderson said if 10 percent of the national herd - around half a million cows - were raised on it, it would generate an additional $150 million for farmers, if the milk price was $6.

That would be double the current use.

He said the findings were based on analysis of Massey University's research.

"We estimate that at an average $6 payout -which I know is not this year - but people are talking about it back there again in a couple of year's time- in the first three lactations, the extra milk production would come to an extra $34,000."

He said farmers would also save because they would rear fewer calves as replacements.

Mr Sanderson said the extra $150 million made at the farm gate would multiply to a total value chain increase in GDP of $340 million a year.

Dr Jean Margerison leads the Massey University research and said the on-going study and findings showed the product could lead to significant benefits for New Zealand dairy farmers.

"The culling rate or loss rate of animals in the first two lactations is lower than we typically find on farm, and so we're not only getting higher milk yields, we're getting good reproduction and survivability in these animals, which is a really key finding for the New Zealand dairy industry."

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