A “one-of-a-kind” Jersey bull has been inducted into New Zealand’s ‘Hall of Fame’ for the “profound influence” he has had on the international dairy industry.
The Hall of Fame accolade – which is run by the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), a dairy co-op in the country – is awarded for bulls that become part of the group’s “elite teams” of artificial breeding bulls.
The winning bull – named ”Okura Integrity” in New Zealand, or known as “OKT” to Irish farmers – was awarded the prize at the LIC Breeders’ Day event, attended by some of New Zealand’s top bull breeders, in the city of Hamilton.
For a bull to be inducted into the Hall of Fame he needs to have had a significant influence on the dairy industry by producing genetically superior female offspring that farmers want to milk.
“Inductees do not only excel through the performance of their own progeny, but also through the contribution of their sons,” explained Malcolm Ellis, LIC’s general manager of New Zealand markets.
“There was no doubt in our mind OKT met both of these criteria with ease,” he added.
The bull was first made commercially available as a young bull in 2011, after his ability to sire high-quality dairy cows was predicted by genomic science.
That ability was confirmed in his first crop of milking daughters.
His stats were remarkable and he continued to be selected to the ‘Premier Sires’ teams as a daughter-proven bull.
The bull is the first animal to achieve eight years in LIC’s ‘Premier Sires’ team, having being selected in 2019; this makes him the first bull to be inducted into the hall of fame while being a ‘premier sire’.
“For most bulls, the Hall of Fame honour is received posthumously as the quality of a bull’s offspring and its peak influence on the dairy industry is often reached after the bull is no longer with us,” explained Ellis.
“It’s likely three of his sons will join him in this year’s Premier Sires daughter-proven team. He really is one of a kind,” he added.
“Getting an Okura bull onto the Hall of Fame has always been a dream of ours. Watching OKT get his own proof and seeing his sons come through the ranks allowed me to hope he might get there one day,” said Lyna Beehre.