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Breeders look to fund new IT system

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Breeders look to fund new IT system

Holstein Friesian New Zealand has offered to work with the industry and fund a new system to replace the c urrent Traits Other than Production (TOP) system.

The TOP system is currently managed by LIC, with the breed societies as the main user, and is nearing the end of its IT life with a redesign required within the next year, says Doug Courtman, dairy farmer, breeder, past president and current board director of Holstein Friesian New Zealand.

“Holstein Friesian New Zealand are working with the industry and the other dairy cattle breed societies to develop a new system for the future,” he says.

The move for greater involvement by Holstein Friesian New Zealand has come from a desire to be involved in the transition of information to the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD).

he first stages of the move have been completed and the industry is now awaiting the integration of CRV Ambreed and the breed societies to complete DIGAD.

Doug says the hope is that by being directly involved Holstein Friesian New Zealand will play a greater role in the transition.

“We need access to all the data required to run our current business structure and at the moment the new solution will be more fragmented than it has been in the past.”

It is a project of personal significance to Doug considering how much he relies on the information for his own dairy farming operation and Holstein Friesian stud Carse- o-Fern.

Doug and wife Lorraine run a 56ha effective unit on the main road between Otorohanga and Te Awamutu. They milk 140 pedigree Holstein Friesians through a 14 aside herringbone shed.

The only luxury in the shed is meal feeders, which were put in to reduce workload rather than feeding out in the paddock.

The Courtmans feed four kilograms of meal per day to the herd during milking season. They use contractors when necessary but apart from that do everything on the farm themselves.

Doug mainly uses overseas genetics in the Carse-o-Fern herd and aims for a big high producing cow bred for protein, udders and capacity among other traits.

This has sometimes worked against him in terms of the BW system, which doesn’t tend to favour larger cows.

His herd is high producing, averaging around 450 kilograms of milk solids per cow. In its best year the farm produced 500 kilograms of milk solids per cow.

He doesn’t sell to overseas buyers and says he’d rather sell to the local market and have the stock in this country supporting the breed in New Zealand.

He say the clock is ticking to find a solution to replace the current TOP platform and if a solution is not found soon there could essentially be no Traits Other than Production data available in new bull proofs.

He says that while LIC and CRV Ambreed have been supportive of the development of a new platform funded by the breed societies they must also play an integral part by finalising an agreement to share the data.

“Any IT platform we develop has to work with DIGAD as well LIC and CRV” he says.

“We hope that by having a stake in DIGAD we can have better access to information in the future. A decision on the pathway forward must be made soon as the industry has acknowledged that the deadline to come up with a replacement TOP system is getting tight.”


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