What is Genomics?

You may already be familiar with the term Genomics as part of the Beef, Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) or just from using genomics as a helpful management tool, but what exactly is genomics?

Genomics is the study of an animal’s DNA or ‘Genotype’ (usually a tissue or hair sample).
Genotypes are made up of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are a DNA sequence variation occurring commonly within a population and each SNP represents a difference in a single
DNA building block, called a nucleotide. Chips used in genomic testing can vary in size and can have various numbers of SNPs. DNA is transmitted in chunks and genomic testing then identifies which DNA chunks have been passed from the parents to it’s offspring.

Genomics is the study of an animal’s DNA (usually a tissue or hair sample)

The genotype is studied to check parentage to confirm that the dam and sire recorded are correct. The second thing that genomics then looks at are an animals traits (milk production, carcass weight etc.), the genomic sample is essentially compared to the genomic samples of proven animals (100K+ proven animals). Animals that are superior on certain traits will be identified through their genotype sample before any performance data has been recorded. This allows herd-owners to make proactive decisions when selecting which animals to keep as herd replacements.

When an animal is genotyped all these traits are studied, genomics is then added to the phenotypic data (traditional data) and an index with more reliability is then formed as a result. Genomics includes the DNA of an animal (from tissue, hair, blood or semen) in addition to other performance data on relatives, in its EBI/Eurostar calculation.

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Advantages of Genomics:

Higher reliability EBI/Eurostar figures: Genotyping increases reliability % figures even before the animal has produced any offspring.

Parentage verification:  A genotyped animal can have its Sire & Dam confirmed.

Breed verification: Genotyping will be able to identify an animal’s breed makeup.

Genetic diseases: An animal’s carrier status for a number of diseases and major genes (e.g. Myostatin) is also possible.

Traceability: Genotyping ensures that from birth there is full traceability of every meat sample directly back to the animal.

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How can I Genotype?

To avail of this invaluable service, call us on 023 8820452 or alternatively you can order through our self selection screen by logging into your HerdPlus account and selecting ‘Services’ – ‘Genomic Services’ – ‘Place Order’

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Farmers can now genotype all their female calves which will allow them to make a more informed decision around breeding and culling potential replacements. This service could cost herd-owners as little as €22/head which a study has shown represents a four to one return on investment! The new genomic pricing system now means the following:

Dairy – Males

>> Price remains at €50/head

Dairy – Females

–>  No genotyping without being a member of HerdPlus –>  €22/head if doing groups of females in the herd e.g. All 2015 females –>  €30/head if doing selective females e.g. genotyping two females

Beef Animals

–>  No genotyping of commercial animals without being a member of HerdPlus or the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP). –>  €22/head for males & females. –>  €30/head for pedigree animals for herds Not in HerdPlus or Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP)

Foreign Genotypes

–>  €20/head for genomic evaluation

Since 2009 genomic selection has been successfully applied to males in dairy breeding scheme. As a result farmers have achieved a higher rate of genetic gain through using genomically tested bulls in their herds.  As the cost of genotyping continues to fall, now only €22/head, it has become increasingly popular to genotype all the dairy females in a herd. The following is a list of benefits to be gained from Genotyping females:

  1. Identify the best heifers to become herd replacements;
  2. Provide better prediction of the true value of an animal’s genetics, that may result in better sale price;
  3. Validate certainty of parentage of individual cows;
  4. Improve the reliability of genomic selection by increasing the number of animals in the reference population.

In the near future genomics will allow farmers to avoid inbreeding through the use of genomic matings, where relationships between animals are quantified at the genomic level. It will also be used to avoid genetic defects that could arise from mating cows to bulls that are known carriers of genetic defects.

Call us on 023 8820452 for further information.