Genomic testing is the process of analysing an animal's genetic information (DNA) from a source such as ear tissue or a tail hair sample, to reliably predict its future performance in the herd. Genomics can be conducted as early as birth, to help make informed decisions about a heifer’s future role in a dairy farm business.
How genomic testing works
Genomic testing allows you to:
- Identify heifers unlikely to perform well with a poor return on rearing costs.
- Make more informed decisions on which heifers to sell, when to use sexed or beef semen, or which females to purchase.
- Significantly fast-track genetic improvements in the herd for traits of potential importance such as fertility, type or A2/A2.
In herds where no surplus heifers are available, you may consider selling less desirable heifers and replacing them with higher quality, genotyped heifers. If using this approach, it is important to consider the biosecurity risks associated with purchasing animals.
Genomic testing is an important tool in accurate animal identification and parentage. It also helps reduce pedigree errors known to occur in around 15 per cent of animals. Testing is also a straightforward way to establish pedigrees in herds that do not have adequate records or no time to construct pedigrees. The reliability of genomic testing of heifers at a young age is the same as having herd testing data from seven lactations. Compared with breeding values based on pedigree alone, it is more than double the reliability.
Currently, genomic testing can be done for any Holstein, Jersey, Jersey-Holstein cross or Red Breed animal whose sire has an Australian Breeding Value (ABV). Read commonly asked questions on genomic testing.
How to collect samples
Samples for genomic testing are easy to collect and can be taken at the same time as routine husbandry procedures, such as ear tagging or disbudding. To obtain Tissue Sample Units (TSUs) and pliers or hair sample cards, contact your genomic service provider.
For more information about genomics, visit the DataGene website.