When you’re considering the future of your herd, how accurately can you predict the potential of different animals?
One way is through genetics, the inherited building blocks that influence the production, type, health and fitness characteristics of the animal. Good genetics are fundamental when considering the profitability of any dairy farm.
A structured approach to breeding can be a highly cost effective way of improving herd performance and any genetic improvement that is made is permanent and cumulative over generations.
Traditionally parent average figures have been used to estimate the genetic merit of future replacements. Parent average is exactly that – an average of the parents estimated genetic make-up with no ability to account for what genetic material was actually inherited. As a result, the reliability of these figures are low (typically 15-35%) and they are subject to a high degree of change as the animal gets older.
Genetic evaluation is changing
Genomic testing is changing the way dairy producers make management, selection and breeding decisions on-farm. Genomic test results are significantly more reliable than traditional parent average values (typically 50-70%) as they reveal more about the genetic potential an animal actually inherited from its parents. Using genomic testing, a heifers genetic potential is revealed early in life, genetic progress can be accelerated with confidence and herd profitability can be enhanced by capitalising on improved performance across a number of traits.
Genetics serve as the foundation
Genetics alone is not the whole answer, to complement focused-enhanced breeding it is essential good herd management is practiced in all areas of production, health, milk quality, fertility and feed efficiency. The combination of genetics and excellent management will yield the best results.
With so many factors relating to herd health to consider, we as a CLARIFIDE® vet are well placed to advise you on how to maximise your herd’s genetic potential.