CRV Ambreed has announced its best graduate bull team in 50 years, and it includes a sire bred by a Dannevirke-based breeder.

Ruanui Terific DIESEL S3J, bred by Ruanui Jerseys in Dannevirke, is a short gestation Jersey bull with superior health and efficiency scores, meaning his daughters will typically be healthier, easier to manage, live longer and produce more milk solids per kilogram of feed than the average cow.

Over the past five decades CRV Ambreed has worked with thousands of farmers to breed the type of cow they are proud to have in their herd, and that suit New Zealand's unique farming systems.

CRV breeding programme manager Aaron Parker has been with the company for more than 20 years and says Diesel adds to a list of new graduate bulls that have completely surpassed CRV's expectations.

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"Our selection process is extremely rigorous. Each year we usually choose the best 10 to 12 bulls from a pool of about 120 bulls that have come to the end of the four-year breeding programme and have herd testing and TOP information," he says.

"This year we're absolutely thrilled to have 18 new bulls graduate, who will be marketed in our catalogue as proven sires."

A visit to Ruanui Jerseys four years ago led to Diesel being nominated for CRV's progeny test programme as a calf.

Once mature, his semen was harvested at CRV's production and logistics centre and distributed to contracted progeny test herds around the country for mating. His daughters were then assessed on their performance in a range of environments, and measured for their production value and traits.

Today, he's one of 18 bulls to graduate, and his production and performance traits will make him key to the future success of New Zealand's dairy industry.

Looking at the wider team of bulls, which includes daughter-proven and young genomic InSire bulls, Parker says dairy farmers will have some great options for herd improvement this year.

"We're a future-focused company, always planning at least five years ahead to make sure we can meet the future needs of the industry," Parker says.

"We made a long-term commitment to breed sires that would produce healthy and efficient daughters. It's really exciting to see that focus realised – our efforts have truly paid off and dairy farmers will ultimately reap the benefits by having better genetics to breed better cows."

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Parker says breeding for improved health and efficiency works.

"Analysis of herd records show that a sire with an excellence rating (5 per cent or more) on the Better Life Health index will have progeny with lower somatic cell count and higher conception rates. If they have an excellence rating on the Better Life Efficiency index, they will have progeny producing more milk solids and lasting longer in the herd," he says.

CRV product manager Peter van Elzakker stresses that sustainable dairy farming cannot be achieved by index alone, and says more farmers are looking for genetic solutions to meet the current and future demands they face around the environment, herd efficiency and animal welfare.

He recommends farmers look more broadly than production figures and choose the right genetics to achieve their overall breeding goals.

"Facial Eczema tolerance for instance is extremely important from an animal welfare perspective, and reducing Urinary Nitrogren levels via LowN Sires is a great option to use for increasing environmental sustainability," he says.

"I think the Better Life Health and Better Life Efficiency Indexes in particular provide a great tool to breed trouble-free, efficient cows. In the end, healthy, easy-to-manage and efficient cows that produce well and are a pleasure to have in the herd create happy and healthy farmers. It's a no-brainer really.

"There's a lot to be proud of this year looking at our breeding programme and the team of sires we have on offer for 2019. We will certainly add this to our many other achievements over the past 50 years."

More information about CRV's bull team can be found at www.crv4all.co.nz.