The power of genomics

I was scanning cows at a farm recently and the conversation came onto a rise in mastitis the farmer had been experiencing.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 8:30 am

We discussed what was happening and what we would do to investigate the cause of the mastitis and the control measures we would start straight away while waiting for the lab results.

At the end of the conversation I said that he could also look at his breeding strategies to help reduce mastitis, SCC and many other conditions in future. The farmer looked quizzically at me, so I explained that by genomically testing the heifers and calves and choosing the best, then picking bulls etc to suit the herd his future replacements would be better. His response was “is that not just for pedigree herds?”, and I said it was and it wasn’t!

Breed from the best

Craig McAlister MVB MRCVS.

If you want to know where your herd strengths are at the moment and therefore what bulls are best suited to use for AI then you need to know where the cows are genomically. If you are spending additional budget using sexed semen then you will want to breed replacements from your best animals, which, in some cases, are not just the ones producing the most milk. You need to consider your herd and business requirements.

As we can now measure how likely cows are to get mastitis, dirty calf bed, hold their cleanings, be susceptible to ketosis or lameness amongst other fertility parameters (to name just the big ones), it makes sense to only breed replacement heifers from your best animals.

However, it’s knowing which are the best cows to breed from, which is the hard task, as it’s not just a matter of identifying the highest yielders. Fortunately that conundrum is quickly answered with genomic sampling by CLARIFIDE Plus which can help you build a healthier and more profitable herd by identifying health and wellness traits in addition to the production and fertility traits delivered by standard genomic testing. Furthermore, that cows in the top 25% of the herds for the genetic predictions for each trait were, on average, over twice as likely to stay healthy.

Heifer inventory management is the key to your success

Reliably predicting the lifetime capability and wellness of a heifer at a few days of age will give you a massive advantage. You can ensure your replacement heifers fit with your farming strategy giving you the ability to breed and invest in your best.

When ranked for each health trait, cows in the top third for their farm had significantly less disease incidence than cows ranked in the bottom third.

With genomic sampling using CLARIFIDE Plus we can now breed for animals which give more milk AND are healthier. Speak to Treenie Bowser-Bruce, Philip Abernethy or Craig McAlister at your Parklands Farm Vets for more information.

For a more productive, profitable and welfare friendly future choose CLARIFIDE Plus.*

*Note: CLARIFIDE Plus is currently only available for Holstein or Jersey herds

“We would not be without genomic testing, we use it to select the very top end to flush and to make general mating decisions on the rest. CLARIFIDE Plus has been invaluable as we have been able to receive our results very quickly using the US system which has very fast turnaround (compared to the slower UK system), allowing us to accelerate genetic gain”: Derrycreevy based farmer David Irwin of the renowned Red House Holsteins was one of the first clients to use Genomics testing with Parklands Farm Vets.