A new research project could boost production in the dairy industry to the tune of millions of dollars.
Dairy farmers were dealt a blow this week with another low payout from Fonterra, but a simple feed supplement for calves could help offset those losses.
The seven year research project has found calves reared on the organic supplement grew bigger than those reared on normal industry practices.
Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and developer Stephen Bell-Booth says his family discovered the formula after feeding it to calves on their own farm.
"Cows that are grown on this programme of ours for the first 11 weeks of their life, they will produce about 30 kilograms more milk solids per cow, per year, for the first five years," Mr Bell-Booth told ONE News.
Dr Jean Margerison, a Massey University Lactational Physiologist, says high growth rates during the milk feeding phase mean that farmers will get more milk yeilds from these animals.
If 10% of the national herd were raised on the supplement programme, it could mean 25 million more tonnes of milk solids. That would equate to an additional $150 million in farm-gate income.
Bell-Booth says New Zealand farmers can get more with less and "so it's got terrific upscale for the New Zealand economy."
One in five of the national dairy herd don't survive past the second lactation phase.
"We think that if you can grow them better in the early stages, they'll be completely different cows. You'll get better production, and better survival from them," Mr Bell Booth said.
Dr Margerison said they want to make sure that the cows survive and that they reproduce.
"So we're actually getting the combination of both of those. And we're certainly seeing much higher survival rates in first and second lactation animals in comparison to industry."