Breeding the most efficient converters of feed into profit is important at Owl Farm. Breeding Worth (BW) is the index that we use to rank cows and bulls according to their ability to meet this objective. We also like our cows to be healthy and easy to handle.
Our herd average BW of 254/55 and PW of 299/78 with 100% Ancestry means we are in approximately top 3-4% of herds nationally (as at November 2022).
We use the following steps to ensure we maintain a high BW herd:
- High breeding worth sires. Using Sexed Semen Kiwicross and Premier Sires A2/A2 Kiwicross.
- Keep accurate and detailed records. Using MINDA LIVE and accurate recording of health and calving details. Cows are weighed and BCS data is collected 4-6 times per year.
- Use DNA sire verification. The whole herd was DNA tested in 2021 and all calves are tested annually to confirm correct parentage.
- Measure cow performance. Four herd tests are carried out annually.
- Use AB over our best heifers. Starting in 2020, a heifer sychrony programme has been followed before using sexed semen followed by natural mating.
- Target replacements from top cows. The top 60% BW cows are selected for dairy sires, with the best 8 cows receiving sexed semen each day.
Every year 70 replacement calves are selected from those born, with the remainder being sold as heifer replacements to local farmers.
We chose A2/A2 genetics for all our sires.
In recognition of all the work put into genetic selection in the previous decades St Peters Obsidian J11F5 breed at Owl Farm was selected in the LIC Premier Sires Bull Team and has sired 22,143 daughters in 4,157 herds (as at 16-10-21).
Breeding also offers opportunities for our “cow of the future” including traits such as natural polled cattle, FE resistance, low urinary N, low methane emissions, tolerance to heat stress.