All Black in Taranaki

All Black in Taranaki
They've received international acclaim and everyone is saying the same thing: there is something different about the 2008-09 "All Black" team. For starters, they're all girls reports the Taranaki Daily News. They also all come from Taranaki, there's 400 of them and their coach isn't Graham Henry. This team is jointly "coached" by Oeo dairy farmers John and Carole Lynskey. While the Lynskeys' All Blacks may never win a World Cup unless there's one on offer for milksolids production they attract a lot of interest when they graze their paddocks under a silver fern flag on Surf Highway 45. Arguably, there is no other herd quite like the Lynskeys' either in NZ or the world. The 400-strong All Black team is one of five dairy herds, collectively numbering 1900 cows, which make up Maolla Farm, the largest single-site dairying operation in Taranaki. The origins of the All Black herd can be traced to 12 years of cross-breeding between Holstein-Friesians and Jerseys which has regained favour with the increasing popularity of the Livestock Improvement Corporation's KiwiCross cow. Twelve years of cross-breeding have taught the Lynskeys that only a percentage of the first cross calves will be black, but as the black gene is reasonably dominant, it's an increasing percentage. While some calves have black and white markings or throw back to the Jersey parent with a dark chocolate colouring, 1900 calvings last year resulted in 750 heifer calves and 400 of these were black.Cows in the elite All Black herd are inseminated with semen from the LIC's KiwiCross bulls. The advantages of hybrid vigour with the Jersey-Holstein-Friesian first cross heifers include extra production, higher fertility, reduced lameness and a reduced incidence of mastitis, the Lynskeys say. While the benefits of hybrid vigour are diluted somewhat with the second and subsequent crosses, there are still distinct advantages over purebreds, they claim. "In terms of lifetime, the cross-bred still has a 111-day advantage over either a straight Jersey or a straight Holstein-Friesian," John says. "Right across the board, our All Black herd is right up there with the best.

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