David, Heulwen and Rhys Davies

Moor Farm, Holywell, Flint

Trial: The role of Genocells to identify high Somatic Cell Count cows within a herd using a single bulk tank sample 

 

Moor Farm is an 85-hectare dairy farm with 100 spring calving Holstein Friesian cows, which block calve in 8 weeks, plus running 80 replacement heifers with emphasis on high genetic cows and utilising as much grass in the diet as possible. The herd is currently averaging 7,500 litres/cow with 4.6% Butterfat and 3.67% Protein equating to 620 kg of milk solids/cow. The current somatic cell count (SCC) sits at 100,000cells/ml.

Over the past few years, Rhys, alongside his parents Dei and Heulwen Davies, have been undertaking genomic testing of their youngstock to estimate their genetic potential and to drive informed breeding decisions for their herd.

Linked to genomic testing, GenoCells is a next generation milk test that provides individual cow SCC using a single bulk milk tank sample. GenoCells uses each cow’s genomic profile to identify their SCC contribution thus doing away with the requirement for time consuming individual cow milk sampling.

As almost all of the herd is genomically tested at Moor Farm, this project will compare the accuracy of testing bulk milk tank samples to identify individual cows’ SCC through matching to individual cows' genomic profile in the herd compared to traditional milk recording methods.

The aim is that the test will allow for quick identification of offending cows following any high SCC results during regular payment testing and thus maintain higher payment returns. Also, being a less labour-intensive method of testing will be of great benefit in the transition period when the herd will be at its most vulnerable to mastitis and greater SCC with the prospect of making a further reduction in antibiotic usage.

Through driving further improvement in efficiency in these key business areas, the project will also contribute to the Sustainable Land Management outcomes, including:

  • High animal health and welfare
  • Reduce the farms’ greenhouse gas emissions

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