In October, 20 batches of fresh conventional Premier Sires semen were impacted by a quality issue and 1,127 herds across New Zealand experienced varying degrees of impact. In response, we brought forward our quality control checks to 4am and credit and goodwill packages were offered to farmers to support recovery.

We have completed a thorough investigation, looking at all operational processes and possible improvements. An independent review was also carried out to look into how we responded to the issue.

We thank farmers for their patience and understanding while we worked through these.

The investigation and recommendations

Our investigation has concluded the possible cause to be a bacterial contamination in 15 batches of semen which were collected on 15 October and 5 batches collected on 21 October.

While we were able to narrow it down to a possible cause, it was not possible to identify the exact root cause of the bacterial contamination.

We considered every possibility, from the bull farm to on-farm insemination, and were able to rule out many possible causes by process of elimination.

The investigation report made recommendations for improvement to reduce the likelihood of this ever happening again and we are committed to implementing the recommendations.

Over half of the recommendations will be in place by March this year, with many improvements already implemented.

Other improvements

When we first identified this issue, we made immediate changes to our quality control checking process. Now, daily quality control checks occur at 4am every morning prior to insemination on farm on that given day. This change means we can notify AB Technicians of any issues and ask them to use back up semen instead, so we can still get cows in calf. Since implementing this change, we have seen no further issues.

We are committed to operational excellence, and we are going beyond the report’s recommendations to investigate and improve our processes. We are doing this by seeking advice from external experts including microbiologists, food safety and assurance professionals and our international semen processing partners who will also review our processes.

The independent review and recommendations

An independent review was also carried out to look at the way LIC took action and has identified areas of improvement when it comes to managing risk, responding to events and communicating effectively and efficiently.

We are committed to implementing all of the recommendations from the independent review.

Commitment from LIC

We would like to acknowledge just how challenging this period has been, and extend appreciation to farmers for their ongoing support and commitment to the co-op.

For decades, LIC has delivered premium genetics to farmers without an issue like the one experienced in October 2023.

We are not closing the book on this – as a co-op we are always looking at ways we can improve our processes to deliver farmers the right tools to breed the most sustainable and profitable herds, now and into the future.

We are committed to keeping farmers informed as we implement the recommendations.

Link: Summary of investigation and independent review

Link: Media release: LIC points to possible cause of semen quality issue and commits to improvements

LIC will be hosting a live online update for all farmer shareholders on Tuesday 5 March at 7pm.

Chief Executive David Chin and members of the senior leadership team will share updates on:

  • the semen quality issue investigation and outcomes
  • our fresh sexed semen product
  • our newly-released GeneMark® Genomics service, and the value it can add to your herd

There will be opportunity to ask questions during the online event. If you're not able to make it, the update will be recorded and made available on our website afterwards.

Click here to join.

For any media enquiries, please contact:

Steph Slattery
Communications Manager
027 256 2057