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ONE year after being purchased
by CRV Holdings Ltd, genetics
company Liberty Genetics is
Waikato farmer Derek Black, one of
Liberty Genetics' founding members, said
the decision for CRV Holdings to take
100 per cent ownership of Liberty was
the right one.
''Liberty had plateaud,'' he said.
''And although perhaps the marketing
has been somewhat ahead of the results
to date, genomics was a consideration
-- we realised that we needed to link
up with a major player with access to
this technology and greater financial
Disillusionment with the way one of
the country's leading genetics company
was treating farmers led to Derek and
his fellow farmers to establish Liberty
Genetics 15 years ago in 1998.
Mr Black --- along with Mark
Townshend, Gary Townshend, Kevin
Buckley, John Holwerda and Simon
Gibson --- all had a keen interest in
genetics, and developed a cheaper method
of proving bulls with not too dissimilar
results to the model of the day.
''Dr Dorian Garrick, a leading
geneticist from Massey University,
analysed the genetic effect to farmers
from using a group of 10 young high BW
sires compared with the New Zealand
traditional breeding method of using
proven sires of the same BW,'' Mr Black
''His conclusion was that the average
BW would be the same for either option
but with a marginally wider variation
using the young sire option.''
One year ago, CRV AmBreed took 100
per cent ownership of Liberty Genetics,
increasing its minority interest in the
company through acquisition of the
interests of 34 dairy farmer shareholders.
Executive chairman Kevin Buckley
(who remained on the board) noted at
the time that the sale followed farmer-
shareholders reaching a conclusion that
more capital was going to be required
for genomic research and there was
a question over the appetite of all
shareholders to fund this.
Concern had been expressed that
a sale to CRV would leave the market
dominated by two major players (CRV
and LIC) but the board concluded its
obligation was to shareholders, not the
Angus Haslett, CRV AmBreed
managing director, said Liberty Genetics
was a successful company in its own
right, occupying a particular market
niche and achieving good genetic gains;
consequently CRV's strategy was to try
and maintain a farmer focused entity
while benefiting from synergies with the
wider CRV business.
''Liberty is still its own company with
own balance sheet, strategy and board
of five, of which three, including the
chairman, are farmers,'' Mr Haslett said.
''Liberty's model is so successful;
CRV has no interest in changing that.
The Liberty strategy has always been to
get high BW young bulls into the market
early, which hasn't necessitated the use
of the Sire Proving Scheme and gives a
much wider option from which to breed.
''Speaking as CRV, the key for us is
to ensure genetic gain continues and
puts New Zealand at the forefront of the
genetics industry. Purchasing Liberty was
a fantastic growth opportunity -- breeders
support the Liberty model and are behind
Mr Black believes there are great gains
to be had by the purchase of Liberty by
CRV. ''CRV has a great opportunity to
grow the Liberty brand.''
Although he no longer has an official
capacity with Liberty Genetics, Mr
Black will always be interested in how the
''I would like to see Liberty generate
more successful sires. I would also like
to see more diversity in bulls that will
contribute to the widening of the genetic
pool, and for Liberty to increase its
''Competition is the lifeblood of any
industry -- there are currently 11 genetics
companies operating in the dairy industry.
The industry needs a Liberty -- New
Zealand farmers are benefiting at large.
Liberty is the price conscience of New
Zealand farmers. At $6.50/straw, Liberty
farmers are happy with the current
structure,'' Mr Black said.
''I believe the purchase by CRV will
encourage more farmers to try Liberty
genetics. They will see its efficiencies and
lower costs, and younger farmers with
larger or corporate-type farms are always
looking at more cost-effective ways of
Two outstanding bulls on the RAS
list have Liberty sires: Holstein Friesian
Bagworth FG Esteem, son of SRB Ngaio
Huge Fluke; and Jersey Lynbrook Terrific,
son of Fernaig Admiral.
''I am comfortable with the genetic
gain of Liberty bulls,'' Mr Black
Liberty genetics growing
needs a Liberty
-- New Zealand
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