21 Oct 2014

High hopes for heat tolerant cow

4:05 pm on 21 October 2014

A New Zealand company believes it may have bred a heat tolerant cow that could thrive in the tropics.

Dairy Solutionz is a company that transfers New Zealand pasture based technologies to tropical climates.

The company says the mutation allows cows like Holsteins to cope with heat better.

The company says the mutation allows cows like Holsteins to cope with heat better. Photo: PHOTO NZ

Chief executive Derek Fairweather said the company's latest work, assisted by the Callaghan Institute and the University of Florida, has been about trying to develop a composite breed of cow which is better able to regulate its temperature.

"There's actually a mutation in three breeds that ultimately had their origin back in Spain. That mutation gives them a slick coast, so it changes their sweat glands and gives them a slick coat and around about a degree of heat tolerance, so under heat stress they're actually a degree better than a conventional Holstein.

"That actually results in about two litres of milk a day for a big American Holstein, so it would be less for a Kiwi cow - but that's a pretty significant amount of tolerance that comes from this slick gene.

"We've been targeting that slick gene and trying to breed it into new Zealand pasture genetics."

Mr Fairweather said the potential for dairy growth in tropical regions is immense.

"It's the size of the prize which excites me. When you look at the globe and where future milk production is going to come from and where the population is that needs that protein, it's all around the tropics."

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