LIC chiefs complete tour of Ireland

The board and senior management of New Zealand’s Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) have just completed a tour of Ireland and the UK today (March 22).

LIC chairman Murray King told AgriLand that the trip encompassed a whole range of factors, which included farm visits and meetings with industry bodies here in Ireland.

“We try to visit Ireland and the UK every couple of years to see where the opportunities and challenges lie; particularly around some of the new technologies. We are seeing how we might serve the market and our customers better.

“I have been coming to Ireland for 25 years. The thing I’ve really noticed over the past five years was the expectation that quotas were going to be removed and everyone was actually gearing up to build cow numbers.

“Irish farmers were willing to expand because their hands had been tied behind their backs for years,” he said.

In many ways, he said, Irish and New Zealand farmers are alike, adding: “We are all looking at ways to improve the bottom line and to make it easier to farm.

A number of people have talked about labour over the last couple of days. We’ve had the same problem in New Zealand; so anything we can do to make it easier to farm, we are all ears.

Touching on some of the technologies offered by LIC, he said: “Labour is the big thing where Saber is concerned.

“As scale goes up, anything that makes it easier is important. There’s absolutely an opportunity for Saber in Ireland; it’s a relatively straightforward piece of kit.”

Along with marketing the Saber product in Ireland and the UK, he highlighted that there’s the potential to bring other pieces of labour-saving technology to Ireland.

On this, LIC’s Simon O’Connor said: “I think LIC can bring a huge amount to Ireland. What LIC doesn’t want to do is take what it is doing in New Zealand and move it to Ireland.

“LIC can supply Irish farmers with solutions that meet their needs and that’s why we are working very hard with industry bodies to develop what Irish farmers want,” the LIC general manager for emerging markets and innovation said.

We want to make sure we form good relationships with Irish farmers; so that we are meeting their needs – both in terms of genetics and automation.

“Once we understand what Irish farmers want, we can apply that to our research and development back in New Zealand to allow us to deliver it over here.

Touching on the LIC Premier Club, he said: “It’s been hugely successful. Before we set it up, the feedback we got from Irish farmers was that it was the type of thing they were looking for.

“We launched the Premier Club last year and we are really pleased with the results. I think what we can do is breed a bull in Ireland that’s suited to Irish conditions and Irish farming. The fact that we will start breeding in Ireland to complement the New Zealand product is great.”

He added: “Potential bulls will be identified as part of the Premier Club. We will look at a reasonably large number and then select from those.” He also confirmed that the bulls would stand and be proven in Ireland.