For the first time New Zealand dairy farmers have the option to breed a polled Holstein Friesian without overly compromising on Breeding Worth. Dairy farmer owned cooperative, LIC (Livestock Improvement), is offering farmers interested in breeding for the polled gene a high genetic merit New Zealand progeny tested Holstein Friesian polled sire - Costers Poll Axe.
Allan McPherson, LIC Breeding Manager, says with Poll Axe’s daughter proof showing positive fertility, shorter gestation length, easier calving and very good somatic cell score BVs (breeding values) – along with the polled gene and a BW of 171 – farmer reaction to Poll Axe has been very positive.
“Feedback from farmers I have spoken to, is that Poll Axe is creating a lot of interest, as he adds variation to individual herd’s breeding programmes, particularly for those farmers who want polled animals in the future."
“The combination of polled, fertility, easy calving and SCC, mean Poll Axe daughters are an easy care, robust type of cow. Poll Axe is also fully registered with Holstein Friesian New Zealand.”
McPherson says the majority of the New Zealand dairy herd is horned, however, the polled gene is dominant over the horned gene.
“Poll Axe was bred by the Coster family of Kaimai, and inherited a polled gene from his dam. As he carries one copy of the polled gene, 50% of Poll Axe progeny from horned cows will be polled."
“But if mated to polled cows 75-100% of the progeny will be polled depending upon the cow’s genotype.”
McPherson said though Poll Axe was just below the selection threshold for the 2012 Premier Sires Daughter Proven Team, he was available through Alpha Nominated.
“Where Poll Axe is used to mate cows, either horned or not, LIC would potentially be interested in screening resulting bull calves of significant BW, and high BW polled heifers could potentially become dams for future breeding.”
McPherson says LIC has been working on pursuing the polled gene for a decade and has had some partial success in the past.
“But this is our first Holstein Friesian polled bull to successfully graduate and represents an important milestone in developing polled animals."
“Historically in New Zealand farmers interested in breeding polled Holstein Friesian cattle had to compromise with a lower BW.
“With Poll Axe these farmers can now have the best of both – as now it’s possible to breed higher BW polled Holstein Friesian animals.”