Should I keep or should I sell?

There is no doubt 2022 will be a year that will be remembered for many decades to come. Carbon reduction targets, nitrates changes, record milk and beef prices leaving many farmers with looming tax bills means an un-chartered future in some respects. However herd goals and breeding improvements remain firmly in farmers own hands even with all the current and future challenges.

With this in mind, this is good time of year to consider genotyping young dairy females and in calf dairy heifers, particularly with scanning taking place on farm in the coming weeks. This can really aid decision making in terms of future stock retention and determine earlier what are your best EBI breeding heifers to keep or sell from your herd.

What can genomics do for your herd?

Genomic technology uses a young animals DNA to estimate their genetic potential and gives dairy farmers greater confidence to make more informed breeding decisions and increase genetic gain of their herds. The benefits of genomic selection include a more accurate prediction of the animal’s genetic make-up (EBI) along with parentage verification of individual animals.

Accurate parentage and the identification of genetically elite females accelerates genetic gain by facilitating better and earlier management decisions such as which replacements to sell or retain to breed the next generation of heifers. Retaining only the highest EBI Heifers will help to improve the profitability and sustainability of your farm into the future.

How does genomic testing work?

The genotyping process involves taking hair samples from the tail end of the animal. DNA is extracted from the hair follicles and analysed in the Laboratory. The DNA information is incorporated into the animal’s genetic evaluation and can be viewed quickly and easily on the genomic evaluation results profile. A detailed genomic evaluation report will also be available to view on the reports section of the website.

With this wealth of information after genotyping, this really informs the farmer of which young stock should be retained and bred from going forward especially dairy farmers who sell surplus dairy breeding stock annually. Without genotyping you could indeed be selling your best genetic dairy heifer without even knowing it! Please note that dairy genomic results are also available on any genotyped crossbred dairy females .

With future challenges in mind, EBI can be used to breed a more carbon efficient  cow that produces high kg of milk solids. This will be important for breeding lower methane producing animals going forward.

The following example is of a genotyped dairy heifer genotyped this year. The EBI sub-indexes including milk kgs and constituent predictions are more accurate including the overall EBI through the increased reliability of genotyping.

DNA kits can be ordered through our self selection screen by logging into your HerdPlus account and selecting ‘Services’ – ‘Genomic Services’– ‘Genotype Female Group’. All the different stages of the order can be tracked using the Genotype tracking screen. Payment can be made using a credit or debit card at only €22 per animal. Alternatively, you can call the HerdPlus team  on 023-8820452 or email [email protected] for any other  questions or additional information on genotyping.