First "supercows" born at Roseworthy

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Wednesday, 3 September 2003

Three new calves born at the University of Adelaide's Roseworthy Campus represent the start of an internationally recognised elite dairy herd.

The "supercows", now just a couple of weeks old, are the result of an historic agreement signed at last year's Royal Adelaide Show between the university and the world's leading artificial breeding organisation, the Canadian-based Semex Alliance.

"It has taken just 12 months for that agreement to bear fruit, with the new calves representing the very best in international breeding stock," says Roseworthy Farm Acting General Manager Matthew Bekker.

Nine months ago the first embryos were taken from the most renowned cow families at the hottest studs in the world, frozen in liquid nitrogen and jetted in from Canada and New Zealand. They were implanted into surrogate mothers by staff and students at Roseworthy.

Mr Bekker says the result of that work, the three supercows (all heifer calves), are the pride of the campus, and they are just the very beginning of a much wider program.

"More than 30 embryos from some of the most renowned cow families in the world have been transferred into recipient cows since September last year, and the good word is spreading. Internationally recognised herds both here and overseas are now offering the very best of their genetics into the program as the concept gains momentum," Mr Bekker says.

"These heifers have the genetic potential to produce more than 14,000 litres of milk in a single lactation - about three times the national average - which is a clear indication of the commercial value of these animals.

"A more efficient cow is also a more environmentally friendly cow - that is, less land for more milk," he says.

Semex Pty Ltd's General Manager, Jim Conroy, says he is delighted by the news of the birth of the first three heifers from the program.

"Two of the heifers are the first female descendants to be born in Australia from Maughlin Astre Twinkle, the maternal sister to Maughlin Storm, one of the most successful sires to emerge from Canada in recent years," he says.

"Their sire, the bull Comestar Leader, is a living legend who has the distinction of having produced and sold more than one million doses of semen throughout the world."

"Semex is proud to be associated with this program," Mr Conroy says. "There is little doubt these heifers are set to become influential cow families in the Australian industry and, in fact, have been contracted as potential bull mothers for the Semex Young Sire Program progeny testing program here in Australia."

The Director of the university's Roseworthy Campus, Professor Phil Hynd, says students at Roseworthy have long been recognised for graduating with first-hand knowledge and experience in the most modern farming systems. The development of the elite herd program has become a unique and valuable tool in this education, he says, and it is an excellent example of the cutting-edge animal biotechnology on the campus.

"This is why we are confident the university's new degree in Animal Science will be successful," Professor Hynd says.

"The Livestock Systems Alliance at Roseworthy has experts in all aspects of animal science, from reproduction to nutrition to genetics. This means the University of Adelaide is in an ideal position to progress research opportunities, such as in the field of reproductive technology, that will have a world wide audience."

NOTE: photo opportunities of the new calves are available. Please contact Matthew Bekker.


Contact Details

Matthew Bekker
Acting General Manager
Roseworthy Farm
Business: +61 8 8313 7846
Mobile: 0409 577 747

Professor Phil Hynd
Roseworthy Campus
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 7871
Mobile: 0438 743 336

Mr Jim Conroy
General Manager
SEMEX Australia
Mobile: 0418 107 863

Dr Dean Revell
Senior Lecturer, Animal Science
University of Adelaide
Business: (08) 8313 7911