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`Slick gene’ focus of thermo genetics

`Slick gene’ focus of thermo genetics
David Fullerton (standing second from right) in Tanzania.

Ngahinapouri-based farmer, David Fullerton is helping to take thermo genetics to the next level. He has invested in Kiwi company Thermo Regulatory Genetics Limited and has been brought on board due to his extensive experience with holstein friesian genetics.

The aim is to produce dairy cows capable of performing in tropical countries with target markets being the Philippines, Vietnam, Central American and Africa.

The target gene is called the ‘slick gene’, which allows cattle to perform in hot and humid conditions while maintaining, and even improving, milk production. The cows are able to better regulate body temperature while maintaining milk yield under heat stress.

David is breeding such cows on his own farm in Ohaupo, which milks a herd of 600. “It’s the next exciting thing in the breeding game. There has been a lot of interest,” he says. “While the main demand will be from off-shore Kiwi farmers in certain dry, hot and humid parts of the country, for example Northland, could also benefi t.”

A love of genetics showed itself early in his career when he was just a teenager.

David, a fourth generation farmer, now runs a beef, cropping and dairy operation which includes a dairy farm and two drystock/cropping blocks in Ohaupo.

David has always focused on international genetics and his clientele, who hail from New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, Australia, South America, Africa, China and the Middle East, seek out his Waipiri Agriculture genetics. “I was always intrigued by the big picture and what US and North American genetics had achieved.

Since WWII these genetics have changed the face of local dairying in many different countries. So from the start we stuck to families that were sending bulls to AI globally.

This has become the core of the business and these sire line ups are still being used today.” He says because holstein friesians can eat a lot of food and are good producers they were popular post-war to feed the population.

Waipiri Agriculture deals in all facets of genetics selling live bulls and heifers, embryos and semen. The current aim is to keep the size of the cattle reasonable as well as focusing on fertility, something his clients are demanding.

“It’s not cheap rearing replacements so you want to keep that cow in the herd for as long as possible. Fertility is particularly important in New Zealand as we have to calve in spring and for the grass curve. Overseas, where cows are indoors or partial grazing, this is not such an issue.”

David’s business is multi faceted and he also has interests in Synlait, HSS Genetics, a joint venture, which sells holstein friesian semen, bulls and embryos, and the ABEA – East Africa Breeding Company, an AI unit national livestock improvement programme in Tanzania.

David says being involved in genetics has hugely enhanced his life: “My love of genetics has taken me to the ends of the earth.”

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