A spreadsheet model was developed that evaluated the gross margin (GM) profitability of clone embryos placed by embryo transfer into recipient cows compared to Hereford x Friesian cows naturally mated to a high growth rate finishing sire. Biological parameters in the model included variables of performance such as losses at various points through pregnancy, calving and rearing and cow losses and calving difficulty. Variance (SD) and correlation information associated with gestation length, birth weight and calf liveweight gain were included. Allowance was made for the extra costs associated with clone ET and the possibility of lower pregnancy rates. To provide a stable result, the model was based on a 1000-cow herd. Assuming 50% of clone ET cows are diagnosed pregnant at 28 days after ET (35 days of gestation) we determined that clone embryos must sell for NZ$84 each to break even with the natural mating system, assuming 80% of clones surviving to weaning would sell in niche markets at 3 times the price/kg liveweight of their cohorts. When all clones attracted the premium, the breakeven price was $142/embryo. The coefficient of variation (CV) of GM profit was 6% for the clone herd vs. 2% for the naturally mated herd. For smaller herds (say 100 cows), with a proportionately lower herd GM, the CV of GM and therefore risk, was higher, at 17%. At weaner clone premiums ranging from 2.25 to 4 times the normal weaner price/kg, the breakeven price ranged from $0 to $195/embryo respectively if 80% of the clones received the premium and $10 to $280 when all weaned clones received the premium.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 64, Hamilton, 262-267, 2004
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