New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has gone fishing, chucking out a half-baited line to potential investors, suitors or part farmer control. It has offered up vague options to those that may be interested in part or all of its Australian operations.
Before the metro media goes troppo squawking about the consumer and liquid milk, Fonterra has never participated in that market, opting for manufactured products for the domestic and export market.
Its products such as Western Star butter and Perfect Italiano cheeses sit on supermarket shelves alongside a range of New Zealand products.
Fonterra, a farmer-owned co-operative with 10,500 supplier shareholders, claims a massive 30 per cent presence in a highly competitive and crowed world export market.
By its sheer size, its operations are vital to the New Zealand economy and that is where a primary focus will sit.
Reported comments from dairy farmers welcoming the move and the possibility of some involvement do not sit well with history.
The well-managed Bonlac and Murray-Goulburn co-operatives stumbled for a range of reasons that perhaps offered up the advice that dairy farmers should only control their product up to the front gate.
The advent of small dairy farmer supplier groups that market sizable milk pools to manufactures surely is the way ahead.
For decades, so-called "new" breeds of cattle have been introduced into Australia with much fanfare and hype.
In 1933, Brahman cattle were introduced by the CSIRO to boost beef production north of the Tropic of Capricorn. They have qualities that make them resistant to heat.
In later years, the traditional Australian British beef herd was influenced by European breeds that promoted growth rate and increase meat yield.
The Murray Grey and Lowlines were Australian breeds that tried to gain a foot-hold in a highly competitive market.
Now enters slick-coated cattle, in particular Senepol, cattle that are red in colour, medium-sized, naturally polled cattle.
They have good conformation which produces a good carcass.
The slick gene in Senepol has proven that with low hair follicle density, results in an animal with a tick resistant coat, heat tolerance and the ability to graze longer hours, resulting in higher fertility and increased production.
Senepols hail from an island in the Caribbean where acclimatised cattle were cross bred with Red Polls.
A large number of Senepol/Red Angus stabilised cross-bred bulls are being introduced into northern Australian herds and the exciting news is that some of the forefront breeders are based in Victoria.
In the US, slick gene Holsteins have been bred and New Zealand breeders have developed a slick gene Jersey.
Genetics from this program would obviously be targeted to dairy herds in the tropics.
If we fry, as has been widely predicted, they could be the basis of dairy herds in present temperate zones.
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