Dairy herds which have been shut down under movement restrictions because of TB have been thrown a lifeline by Holstein UK.
They will now be able to grade up their cattle to eventually gain pedigree status, under a new system of ‘Provisional Pedigrees’.
“The system before disadvantaged those farmers who genuinely wanted to grade up their herds and make a long-term commitment to pedigree breeding,” says Suzanne Harding, head of animal information services at Holstein UK. “They had understandably been prevented from doing so when placed under movement restrictions, under government rules designed to prevent an instant increase in the valuation of their stock.”
However, the new system recognises that some cattle breeders have a genuine and long-term desire to build up a pedigree herd, but could be prevented from doing so because of movement restrictions which in some cases continued for years.
“Most people, whether pedigree or non-pedigree, are using the same genetics,” says Richard Beard, field development officer for Holstein UK. “But by being pedigree, you have an accurate and authenticated record of these genetics, and more importantly, can identify cow families, trace their performance over many generations and concentrate on improving the superior lines.”
Other services also open up to them, such as type classification or the computer mating service, WebMate, which all have the potential to add quality and value to a herd.
The new system of Provisional Pedigrees works by allowing the Holstein or Friesian herd owner to trace ancestry and grade up in the usual manner - with guidance from a Holstein UK field development officer - but imposes a year-long delay before official pedigree status is granted.
“This may sound like a long wait, but I know of some farmers whose herds had been closed for years and would dearly love to have graded up,” says Mr Beard.
“The new system seems like a very reasonable compromise,” adds Mrs Harding. “It allows those people with a long-term commitment to breeding to develop and improve their herds, yet it prevents any abuse of the system.
“These people have already taken a hard hit through being closed down with TB, which we all know can have severe economic and emotional consequences, so this positive change to the rules at least has the potential to help them rebuild their herds and develop a livestock trade once movement restrictions are lifted.”
Dairy farmers who are interested in grading up their herd should contact Jacky Palmer at Holstein UK on 01923 695284.
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