Successful calving winds up at Kepler Station

// Breeding and Genetics

Despite a nasty spring storm, calving of this year’s cohort of Informing New Zealand Beef Progeny Test calves went very well on Manapouri’s Kepler Farm.

image of cow and calf

Anna Boyd, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Operations Specialist-Beef, says the calving of the artificially inseminated (AI)-sired progeny got underway on 30 August, with a particularly early calf eager to make an appearance. The last calf was born on 4 October bringing the total number of live calves born over that period to 255.

Last December, 405 Hereford and Angus cows were AI’ed using genetics from six Angus, six Hereford bulls and one internationally-sourced Angus bull. The AI programme was followed up by farm-selected bulls.

The calves from the first cohort of 54 Progeny Test-sired heifers (born in 2021) were also born this spring. Anna says the heifers, which were naturally-mated to farm selected sires, had an exceptional calving with just one death and very few assists.

Across the 2019–2021-born cows, calf losses have amounted to just 3.5 percent so far.

Calving is nearly at an end on Kepler Farm and calf marking is set to get underway in mid-November.

Kepler Farm is one of the two Informing New Zealand Beef Progeny Test sites with Taupo’s Lochinver Station joining the programme last year. Calving is still underway on Lochinver.

The seven-year Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme is a partnership between Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Meat Board. It aims to boost the sector’s profits by $460m over the next 25 years.

Focused on increasing uptake of the use of high-quality genetics in the beef industry, the four main components of the programme are developing New Zealand-specific breeding indexes, building a genetic evaluation and data infrastructure, running progeny test herds and developing new data sources.