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New Zealand Dairy Farmers Seek Compensation for Hairy Calves

As dairy farmers around the world focus on the results of the August Proof Round, you can’t help but wonder what confidence 900 farmers in New Zealand are feeling about DNA proven bull semen.  More than 1500 animals descended from Matrix a commercial holstein-friesian bull carry a genetic mutation that produces hairy, heat-intolerant, poorly-lactating heifers.  The breeders affected by this problem feel the semen company did not deal openly with the problem and are being less than “cooperative” in seeking a solution for their members.

Livestock Improvement (LIC), the Hamilton-based dairy genetics co-operative that provided the semen, is refusing to pay compensation. “Most farmers recognize that these rare mutations are naturally occurring and simply a fact of life.” Having said that, the LIC is no longer selling Matrix semen and offers free genetic testing to identify calves with the mutation.  The question of responsibility appears to be one that will take some time to answer.

A spokesman for LIC said that providing compensation for farmers’ expenses in raising the calves to yearlings could amount to 1.95 million.  Apparently high cost is being used as a justification for not dealing with the problem.  Obviously, LIC is not considering the cost to the affected farmers, who also have ongoing costs, without expectation of normal production.  One dairy farmer who said he had paid a premium for the semen only to end up with dud animals was advised by LIC to get rid of them. We assume LIC meant the calves?


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