It was a milestone that had been 55 years in the making but took only a split-second to finally happen.

With one clamp of a handheld tag punch, LIC's 10,000th Sire Proving Scheme (SPS) bull calf has been tagged.

The historic event took place on the farm of long-time and highly-esteemed dairy Otewa (near Otorohanga) cattle breeders Stewart and Kathryn Anderson. LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said Arkan MGH Believer symbolised the huge contribution the SPS made to New Zealand dairy farming.

The herd improvement scheme was launched in 1961, when dairy farmers banded together to selectively breed the best bulls for the dairy industry.

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That work continued to this day, with LIC working closely with farmers to identify and develop the best prospects.

Believer's tagging signalled LIC's purchase of him, having selected him for his genetic potential.

Mr McNee said he would be treated like animal royalty at LIC's Newstead bull farm, where he could grow to a 1000kg beast.

If, as a young bull, his daughters became high-performing cows in terms of efficiency and productivity, he would graduate to LIC Premier Sires status, with his semen inseminated into thousands of cows across the national herd.

His potential value was in the millions of dollars to LIC's dairy farmer owners and the national economy.

"It's lovely of LIC to have chosen this farm to tag its 10,000th SPS animal," Mrs Anderson said.

"It was really exciting for the co-operative to mark the occasion, and we felt quite humbled at having the honour and recognition of LIC marking the milestone here."

LIC bull acquisition manager Simon Worth said Believer came from an amazing cow with a formidable family reputation, conformation and breeding worth.

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His sire, Mourne Grove Hothouse, was one of LIC's very best bulls, siring many outstanding daughters.

Mr Anderson said sire proving through the use of daughter-proofs was essential.

"Genomics (genetic research into an animal's traits using its DNA) tells you the story of a bull's potential future performance, but sire proving tells you what a bull's actual performance is," he said.

In both his personal life and professional life as a breeder, he was a "great believer" in history and heritage, which was evident in his breeding philosophy.

"I'm a big fan of line breeding, that is finding the best cow families from which to breed."

"You have to appreciate that this present generation (of bull calves) is only here thanks to the efforts and work of previous generations."