Building a profitable dairy herd

A group of heifers in Derbyshire bred using Genus ABS' unique mating system, GMS.
A group of heifers in Derbyshire bred using Genus ABS' unique mating system, GMS.

There are many aspects of success in the dairy herd that farmers aim for - production, milk quality, fertility, milk from grass etc.

But the very big questions are “Are all cows in the herd achieving this success or are some weaknesses being disguised by the top performers?” and “Could the good performers do even better?”

Detailed records will provide some of the answers to these questions but the challenge is to ensure that all animals are bred to maximise their potential and then realise this potential with top quality management.

Genus ABS has been assisting farmers with this task since 1968 with their Genetic Management System (GMS) achieving excellent results. However, just over a year ago the company launched GMS 2.0, a completely new and redesigned mating programme. Ervin McKinstry, Ireland Manager for Genus ABS explained: “Dairy farms have to be more efficient than ever as costs increase and milk price becomes even more volatile. GMS 2.0 provides dairy farmers with a significantly better tool for making sound strategic breeding decisions about their herds, decisions that will ultimately impact on profit margins for years to come.”

He added: “ Genus ABS revolutionized the industry with the introduction of the first mating program– Genetic Management System (GMS) in 1968.

“Over the years, the system has been developed and updated with additional tools and features making it the most popular mating program in the industry. Since the very first mating nearly 50 years ago, GMS has processed over 80 million mating recommendations, more than any other company.”

Ian Watson, Evaluator with Genus ABS emphasises the importance of ensuring that the herd is comprised of animals with good production and type, suit the farming system, have a high health status and produce milk in line with the contract that the milk purchaser has in place.

Ian said: “GMS 2.0 is easy to use. Firstly we identify the production and conformation options that best suit the farm operation, and then we target the genetic improvement areas needed to achieve this in the herd. Next, we assist the farmer to rank production, health and conformation in order to build a customised genetic improvement roadmap to help them reach their goals in the shortest amount of time.”

GMS 2.0 continues to provide inbreeding management and offers dairy farmers the most complete protection against detrimental recessives and haplotypes. In addition, GMS 2.0 brings many other new benefits to dairy farmers, including:

Advanced Customisation

* 150 different customisation options

* Robot focused options

* Complete breeding strategy management

Genomic Incorporation

* Utilisation of female genomic data

* Improved inbreeding management

* More precise matings for optimum genetic progress

Increased Efficiencies

* 14 customised reports to help monitor genetic progress

* Instant reporting capabilities

One local farmer who has benefited from the system is Sam McMullan from Whitecross, Co Armagh. Sam has been using the mating programme for over six years and has noticed the continual improvement in the herd. Sam adds: “Our cows have now become more uniform as a group, it’s very important from a herd management perspective to have cows suited to our system. GMS 2.0 will remain an integral part of our breeding strategy for the foreseeable future.”

For further information on GMS contact your Genus ABS representative or phone the office on 028 3833 4426.