Assessing the potential of genomic testing dairy heifers to increase genetic gains and financial returns
Through EIP Wales, nine farmers from north Wales investigated the potential for using genomic testing of their dairy heifers to identify the best animals to breed from at an early age.
The reliability of traits being inherited from the traditional pedigree index is 35%. By using genomic testing to measure DNA for production, type, fertility and health traits this can increase the reliability to 70%.
But genomic testing is more expensive so the group wanted to see if this extra cost is worth the improvement in reliability of the information generated.
- A hypothetical breeding scenario illustrated how 23% of the heifers would have been incorrectly bred if information was based on the traditional £PLI figures. This equated to lost £PLI potential of £6,914 to the next generation.
- The benefit of genomic testing lies in the increased progression of genetic gain.
- The total economic benefit generated from genomic testing totalled £46.89, minus the cost of genomic testing at £27.50 creates a cost benefit of £19.39 per heifer. However, this does not account for the additive and compound interest that investing in herd genetics creates.
Further details on the findings of the project can be read in the report below.