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Lincoln Research shows NZ farmers can breed cows that pee less nitrogen

Lincoln Research shows NZ farmers can breed cows that pee less nitrogen

CRV Ambreed welcomes the release of research findings yesterday from Lincoln University, which demonstrate that breeding dairy cows with low Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN) can reduce the amount of nitrogen they excrete in their urine.  

Watch TVNZ coverage.

CRV Head Geneticist Phil Beatson says the findings are timely following the release of changes to the Government’s Essential Freshwater regulations last week, part of which focuses on improving farming practices to reduce nitrogen loss.

“The findings of Lincoln’s research confirm that genetics are an important and easily implemented solution for farmers in their efforts to reduce nitrogen loss and protect our waterways.

“The University’s research findings align well with the work CRV has done internationally in this space for many years. This study shows that cows that have genetics for low MUN do in fact excrete less nitrogen in their urine. This in turn supports the science behind our LowN™ Sires and our expectation that daughters of these bulls would excrete less urinary nitrogen.

“Lincoln’s research is the first independent work carried out in New Zealand on pasture-based grazing systems that confirms CRV Ambreed’s hypothesis that genetics for low MUN will result in cows urinating less nitrogen.

“Farmers can now be confident that breeding for reduced MUN with genetics such as LowN™ Sires will help them reduce their herd’s Urinary Nitrogen output and therefore, reduce the amount of nitrogen entering our groundwater, rivers and streams.”

CRV has estimated that farmers who start a breeding programme using LowN Sires this season can expect potential nitrogen leaching reductions of 10-12% by 2025.

Furthermore, the Lincoln study found that cows with low MUN breeding value have higher percentage of protein in their milk. Dairy farmers are paid per kilogram of solids in their milk, which is made up of fat and protein. So, using LowN Sires to breed low MUN cows could help lift farm profitability.

In addition to reducing nitrogen leaching, lowering the amount of nitrogen hitting the ground in urine is expected to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. This reduction in a dangerous greenhouse gas is expected to be a significant beneficial outcome of using LowN genetics.

“Our dairy farmers have already made great strides over the past ten years to mitigate the effects of their farming operations on the environment and protect water quality,” says Beatson.

“Many dairy farmers understand that they need to make an investment in new innovations that will enable them to farm sustainably.  We’re excited about the part that CRV Ambreed genetics is already playing as a solution.” 

CRV Ambreed Phil Beatson