Genomic test allows dairy farmers to select heifers based on disease risk

The new genomic test incorporates health traits in addition to the production traits delivered by standard testing.
The new genomic test incorporates health traits in addition to the production traits delivered by standard testing.

Zoetis Ltd. Zoetis has launched CLARIFIDE Plus™, the only genomic test to incorporate health and wellness traits in addition to the production traits delivered by standard testing.

CLARIFIDE Plus is the first available dairy genetic evaluation specifically designed for cow and calf wellness traits in Holstein and Jersey cattle in the UK.

For the first time, dairy farmers will be able to genomically select heifers based on their risk for developing:

- Mastitis

- Lameness

- Metritis

- Retained placenta

- Displaced abomasum

- Ketosis

Additionally, information will be available on the likelihood of their calves developing:

- Calf scours

- Calf mortality

- Calf respiratory disease

Dairy Wellness Profit Index

CLARIFIDE Plus includes a bespoke Dairy Wellness Profit IndexTM (DWP). DWP is based on lifetime productivity and health, giving an overall view as to how profitable a cow will be. Standard genomic testing allows for a prediction on an animal’s potential, CLARIFIDE Plus gives a prediction on the ability for that animal to remain healthy and fulfil it’s potential.

Zoetis vet Dr Dave Armstrong explained: “DWP incorporates production, reproduction, health, type and wellness making it ideal to base your cow selections on. You can use the wellness trait predictions within CLARIFIDE Plus to effectively predict future health performance.”

Performance benefits

On UK farms, the difference in lifetime profitability between the top and bottom 10% of animals ranked by DWP is approximately £1029. When the top third of cows are compared with the bottom third for individual wellness traits there was;

- 38% less incidence of a retained placenta

- 76% less incidence of developing metritis

- 49% less incidence of getting lameness

- 49% less incidence of mastitis

Dr Armstrong added: “Selecting for traits that have an emphasis on health, longevity and wellness, allows producers to make decisions earlier and invest in raising healthy animals. Healthier cows stay in the herd longer and make a big difference in a herd’s profitability.

“Cows selected using CLARIFIDE Plus are 106% more profitable over a lifetime compared to selecting by parent average and those in the top 25% are on average, more than twice as likely to stay healthy as cows in the bottom 25%,” he said.

It costs £2.31 a day or £1,819.012 on average to rear a dairy heifer replacement with the payback taking until the middle of her second lactation. By predicting a heifer’s ability and health earlier, farmers can manage the upfront costs by only keeping the heifers they want, keeping them in the herd longer and significantly increase their overall rate of genetic gain.

Genetic selection with CLARIFIDE Plus along with good herd management helps farmers to reach their herd health and profitability goals.

To find out more about CLARIFIDE Plus contact Zoetis or visit www.clarifide.co.uk