Chance 'to fill in the gaps'

Farmers are being urged to vote in favour of a genetics investment proposal that will bring together New Zealand's sheep and beef genetics in a new collaboration.

A successful vote would see the separate activities of Sheep Improvement Ltd, the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, become a new entity called Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Total funding from government and industry sources would be up to $8.8 million a year.

Farmers were asked to reaffirm their current annual investment of $2.9 million, via Beef and Lamb New Zealand, ahead of the organisation's annual meeting next Friday. Neil Sanderson, an Angus New Zealand board member, representing the southern South Island, and a member of the association's breed development committee, was enthusiastic about the collaboration, saying the only way the industry would move forward was through science.

He believed it was a wonderful opportunity ''to fill in the gaps'' in knowledge relating to profitability in the beef industry, particularly in reproduction and fertility and also meat and carcass aspects.

While Mr Sanderson felt the current level of performance recording in the beef industry was quite good in the traits that could be measured easily, insight was needed into those traits that could not be measured, such as fertility, longevity and adaptability and suitability for hill-country environments.

Mr Sanderson believed the collaboration was a real opportunity for New Zealand to ''take the lead in its own destiny'', capitalising on the niche it had with its grass-fed and grass-finished beef.

It was exciting to see some of the processing companies offering significant premiums for recognising quality in the beef industry, which was scientifically based, not just anecdotally based.

That now needed to be linked in with genetics but finding and identifying those genetics with the current measuring system was not easy, he said.

Feedback from the programme needed to be utilised to try to link that to genetics.

There were ''so many pluses'' from the collaboration and it was a win-win for all involved, he said.

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