NZ heat-tolerant breed launched in US

06 Jul, 2017 04:00 AM
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A Kiwipole cow: a breed that has been developed to put the Senepol slick gene into Holsteins.
... leading, high-genetic index bulls that also have the heat tolerance.
A Kiwipole cow: a breed that has been developed to put the Senepol slick gene into Holsteins.

New Zealand's Dairy Solutionz launched its Kiwipole breed at the Tulare World Ag Expo event in California earlier this year, in partnership with STGenetics.

Slick Pathos, Slick Eros and its brother Slick Himeros are believed to be the world's first homozygous slick dairy-type bulls available for export semen sales. The bulls will transmit the heat tolerance associated with the "slick gene" to all of their daughters.

Dairy Solutionz has developed the Kiwipole through natural breeding and introgression of the Senepol slick gene. The aim is a 100 per cent Bos taurus animal that potentially has the same heat tolerance as Bos indicus breeds, but without the negative milkability traits that can be present in the Bos indicus breeds.

The slick genes better regulate body temperature while maintaining milk yield under heat stress. University of Florida research shows the cows can generate up to four litres more milk a day (Dikmen 2014) with a calving interval improvement of almost two months (Ortiz 2015) for cows under heat stress.

Dairy Solutionz chief executive Derek Fairweather said while the breed had been designed for tropical conditions overseas, it could become sought after in New Zealand and Australia to help farmers breed herds that could remain productive in hot and humid summers.

"We can breed the heat tolerance into pretty much pure-bred animals," he said. "So, we are fast approaching being able to provide leading, high-genetic index bulls that also have the heat tolerance."

Dairy Solutionz chief technical officer and a dairyfarmer with farms in both NZ and Australia Paul Bardoul has been trialling the breed on his 650-cow high-input farm in the Waikato region of NZ. Although summertime temperatures there typically peak at about 30 degrees Celsius, high humidity could mean cows were heat stressed, Mr Bardoul said.

The Kiwipole-cross animals comprised about 10 per cent of his herd. He said the difference between those animals and the Holsteins was pronounced when the herd was put on to pasture on a hot day. The Holsteins were crowded in the shade under the trees, while the Kiwipole animals were out grazing.

At this stage, the production of the Kiwipole animals was lower but the aim of the breeding program was to get the slick gene into a 15/16th Holstein, so the resulting animals would have heat tolerance and high production, he said.

Mr Bardoul said he planned this year to use Kiwipole semen across some of the 1000-cow herd on a dairy operation at Echuca, Victoria, he owns with a partner. Heat stress was an issue on the farm, which operates a partial mixed ration system, he said.

The Kiwipole breed is being made available in the United States through STGenetics. STGenetics research and development manager Dr Vish Vishwanath, who has worked with Dairy Solutionz on the Kiwipole breed for almost a decade, said he was excited about what this meant for farmers in tropical climates. "The daughters of these bulls and the extensive breeding program behind them, will have greater heat tolerance mixed with the best pasture and feedlot genetics in the world, thanks to the Dairy Solutionz introgressing the slick locus," he said.

Mr Fairweather said the company had its eye on South America, Africa, India and Pakistan where he said he believed the Kiwipole breed could make a big impact for farmers.

Philippines supplier Dave Hayman said he had confidence in the new breed. Mr Hayman has exported New Zealand dairy cows to the Philippines and has used the Kiwipole bull semen, with calving taking place soon.

"In the Philippines, it's a tough climate for dairy production, and these genetics will make the progeny of the New Zealand live heifers that we imported, more robust and productive," he said.

Mr Hayman said the slick gene, when bred into New Zealand and American proven dairy cows, produced a lot of upside in hot, humid conditions, and that's coupled with sound milk production of more than 7000 litres for the current cross-breeds.

Mr Fairweather said the new bulls were the next generation from Kiwipole Slick Grazer, whose semen became available in 2014.

"Two of the bulls are his sons and are superior because they are homozygous," he said.D

For more information visit website www.dairysolutionz.co.nz.

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