The dairy industry is one of New Zealand's biggest export earners. Profit in dairying is made from producing and selling milk from dairy cows. Before a cow can produce milk she must first get pregnant and give birth.
Producing milk therefore calls for two basic things :
1. getting cows in-calf (pregnant); and
2. feeding the cows well so they produce milk of the right quality and in the right quantity wanted by local and world markets.
They also have to get in calf again so they can continue to produce milk for their owner - and for the dairy industry.
New Zealand dairy cows are largely fed on grass. They are pregnant for around 9 months. Traditionally most cows calve (give birth) in the late winter or early spring, generally between July and September, with those cows being milked through into autumn. In addition, some farmers choose to be 'winter milk farmers', calving their cows in the late summer and autumn to produce milk through the winter months.
Cows are mated between one and three months after calving. They continue to calve each year for life, their first pregnancy generally happens when they are around 2 years old (when they are known as heifers).
This site is about how New Zealand's 13,000 farmers get their 3.5 million cows in calf each year so they calve over a 10 week period.
It's a tall order, achieved through artificial breeding.
LIC has led dairy herd improvement in New Zealand since the early 1900s. Today it is the country's largest artificial breeding company. Three out of every four cows in New Zealand are sired by a LIC bull!
Learn and Understand
Over the following pages, learn how LIC leads the field in herd improvement and creates wealth for pastoral dairy farmers.
Discover what the purchase of one crop of young bull calves results in, with the completed lactation of their first offspring some five years later.
You'll learn why and how artificial breeding was developed back in the 1930s, how artificial breeding bulls are selected and bred today and how their semen is collected and inseminated into cows.
Whether you live in the city or the country you should find this a fascinating because everybody benefits from a vibrant dairy industry - and our industry is one of the most vital in the world because LIC's artificial breeding service drives the rate of genetic gain (improvement) which means this year's cows will be better than their mothers. We all benefit from a strong dairy industry because of the revenue generated through the production of millions of litres of milk and sale of milk products.
Let's begin …