Tom Jones - Elwyn Jones Scholar

July 2015

I'm nearing the end of the first week and I have visited a number of different size farms from 110 cows to over 800 cows. All with the same goal of breeding more efficient dairy cows with some of the best genetics available to them in their herd. The use of embryo transfer in some of the higher genomically testing females with the top 2/3 in the herd transported to the nearest IVF centre to try and get a larger number of female offspring. Over the years when milk prices have been very low the embryo sales along with the bull and heifer sales have helped to pay the bills on a number of these farms. The growing concern that many of them feel is that AI companies with large pots of money are buying some of the highest testing heifers available and then breeding their own bulls, therefore reducing the need for breeders to produce bulls for them and reducing the extra income that they were making from these sales. The trip proving to be such an eye opener in particular the differences between the UK and US, with the majority of cows and youngstock housed and crops such as maize corn and alfalfa grown on the land. Constraints such as land and poor milk prices are felt here as much as in the UK and succession is also on people's mind. It is something that needs to be planned out during family discussions so that everyone is in the picture and they all know what they need to do to either buy into the business or pay out family members as such.