Herd ’23: 10-11 March, Bendigo

Breeding and genetic improvement could help the dairy industry boost its sustainability credentials.

And this is vital for meeting market expectations, now, and into the future.

That’s what Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin will tell Herd’23 delegates in Bendigo next year.

Barry Irvin - surrounds by Bega products
Future focus: Genetics could offer dairy farmers and the
wider industry solutions to sustainability challenges such
emissions and environmental concerns, according to
Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin. Barry will
speak at the DataGene Herd’23 conference next year.

“Solutions to debates around emissions and environmental footprints will be multifaceted and one solution will be having a very efficient converter of low value inputs, such as grass and grain, into high value products like milk,” he said.

“That’s where genetics plays an important role.”

As head of one of Australia’s largest dairy and food companies and with a long family history of dairy farming in the Bega Valley – Barry will share his unique insights about consumer expectations of sustainability in the dairy supply chain and what this could mean for dairy farmers.

Sustainability will be a key theme for the biennial conference off-the-back of the release of DataGene’s Sustainability Index in August.

The Sustainability Index is a tool to help dairy farmers breed cows with reduced emissions intensity.

Barry will explain to the Herd’23 audience that tackling sustainability challenges such as methane emissions will be as important for the future on-farm as it will be for growing and maintaining product markets.

But will a focus on sustainability deliver a premium for dairy farmers?

“Potentially,” Barry said.

“But if we look at the past, even if a premium is realised in the short term, it then becomes an expectation to participate in the market.”

Circular co-operative

This eye to the future and a desire to ensure the sustainability of dairy and other agricultural industries in the NSW Bega Valley is why Barry and Bega Cheese have led the establishment of the Regional Circularity Co-operative.

“Circulatory” at its essence is about using a resource more than once to reduce waste.

One example, yet to begin, is the investigation of growing the methane-reducing asparagopsis seaweed in the ponds of wastewater from cheese production at Bega Cheese.

Barry said the concept would guarantee an additional use for the salty water.

Examples of “circulatory” already in action include the pairing of a free-range chicken and dairy farmer.

This arrangement enabled the chicken farmer to expand their enterprise, while the dairy farmer received fertiliser.

Hear more about Barry and Bega Cheese’s quest to make the Bega Valley the most “circular” region in the world at Herd’23.

Register before 10 February to take advantage of early bird discount.
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Herd conferences are a joint initiative between DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia and the National Herd Improvement Association (NHIA).