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Rural roundup: New DNA tests; tiger worms; high-country grazing

Rural roundup: New DNA tests; tiger worms; high-country grazing
Here is a selection of current stories from DNA test targets lamb's individual strengths Sheep breeders will be able to DNA-test lambs at birth with a world-first procedure to show which animals will be the most valuable for farmers. AgResearch scientist John McEwan said the test would be available to commercial breeders in the next few months. It had taken more than $2 million to develop reports Stuff. Although some genetic testing of sheep was already done by commercial breeders, that testing gave breeders predictions about only a small number of character traits, Mr McEwan said. Current tests allowed breeders to predict a sheep’s future muscle growth, but the new test would accurately show from birth everything from the sheep’s future growth rate, to its resistance to disease. The test would also give a complete genetic picture of individual animals, allowing breeders to see every genetic variation and mutation in the sheep’s genetic make-up. Read the rest of this entry » Tiger worms attack cow effluent Papawai Ltd directors Dallas Lucas and Peter Donnelly are using tiger worms to deal with their cow effluent, the first farm-based operation of its kind in New Zealand. Mr Lucas told visitors to his farm from the NZ Large Herds conference they had inherited an effluent system that was unsustainable in the long term. They had explored many options while researching a replacement effluent system but were unconvinced about holding ponds, he said. They did not want to install a 3.6 million-litre pond to meet the requirements of having 90 days storage – a 2m-deep pond with a surface area of 1500m2 would have been needed – and wanted a simpler, more slimlined option, Mr Lucas said. They milk 550 cows on 213ha but are keen to expand to 750 reports The Southland Times. Read the rest of this entry » Govt considers issuing grazing rights The Government may look at opening some conservation land to livestock grazing as a way for the Department of Conservation to generate income reports The ODT. Agri Minister David Carter told about 300 farmers in Central Otago that finding ways to generate income from a conservation estate that grew in size under the previous government was a looming issue, and allowing strictly controlled grazing to licensed farmers could be a solution. “That, to me, makes perfect sense,” he said at the Fed Farmers high country committee two-yearly field day in the Nevis Valley. Don Clarke, of Carrick Station, told the field day that he had found grazing of the upright-growing invasive weed, Hieracium lepidulum, could control its spread. Mr Carter repeated his support for the greater use of conservation covenants administered through organisations such as the QEII Trust, saying it was “a sensible” way to achieve biodiversity protection and allow economic use of land. Read the rest of this entry » For up-to-date schedule and saleyard prices, see - Bulls - Steers - Lamb - Wool - Dairy cows - Stags

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