13 December 1996

Genus goes Dutch…

By Sue Rider

GENUS has conceded that it lacks the muscle to go it alone in the cattle breeding business and is linking up with Dutch dairy semen company Holland Genetics in a new marketing and breeding initiative.

The alliance sees Genus, which has a 50% share of the UK dairy semen market, become sole agent from March next year for Dutch dairy semen in Great Britain.

Also launched was a joint breeding programme for young bulls between the two countries.

Steve Amies, Genus production director responsible for dairy breeding, says that the companys existing 100-strong young bull testing programme, GSIP, is performing well. But it lacks the muscle to produce top sires.

"We need to multiply fourfold the number of bulls tested to get regular international winners," he says. "But the cost of doing that is too great and the scope for progeny testing in Great Britain limited to 285 bulls."

The logical step is to form a partnership – and the Dutch the obvious choice, says Mr Amies. "We share the same breeding goals of index and sound functional type."

The partnership will test 500 Holstein Friesian bulls a year.

In the first year 30 of those bulls will be jointly owned, with 15 tested in Holland and 15 in the UK. In addition Holland will continue to run its own scheme, testing about 380 bulls a year. Genus will test between 70 and 100 bulls, depending on farmer participation in its scheme, says Mr Amies.

Farmers in the UK will have access at the same time as the Dutch to those new bulls, says Mr Amies. But he cannot give a commitment that proven semen will be available at the same price in both countries.

Genus claims the joint programme with its own MOET herd and the Dutch nucleus breeding herd, Delta, will own over 2000 females, making it the largest nucleus programme in the world.

Female evaluation was increasingly important to eliminate preferential treatment and improve reliability of proofs. And by evaluating nucleus females it is possible to identify superior bulls prior to progeny testing, says Mr Amies.

"This improves success rates – for every one marketable bull out of conventional progeny testing, we get one-and-a-half if weve done nucleus screening first."

Mr Amies said reliability of proofs would be improved by ensuring 100 daughters per first crop proof. The aim is to return sire proofs within five years.

The £5 a straw charged for test semen will be refunded provided the semen is used within two months. And producers would earn £50 semen credit provided daughters calve within two-and-a-half-years and complete one lactation.

Genus MOET herd now part of Dutch breeding scheme. Genuss Steve Amies: "We need to multiply fourfold the number of bulls tested…"


ANGLO/DUTCH ALLIANCE


&#8226 Programme will test 500 bulls.

&#8226 Nucleus female herd of 2000.

&#8226 Improved reliability of bulls.