2014-06-27   facebook twitter rss

NMR Launches Genomic Testing Service Genetracker

Dairy producers can speed up the genetic progress of their herds using NMR’s new service launched at the Livestock Event, NEC on July 2, 2014. Named Genetracker, this genomic testing service identifies the genetic potential of the animal from a very young age.

Genetracker uses techniques already used in the UK for identifying the potential of young bulls and it is now becoming more popular for testing females, particularly heifers.

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The advantage of knowing the genetic potential of heifers is three-fold, according to NMR’s Justin Frankfort. “Producers can identify herd replacements much earlier and increase the rate of genetic progress in their herds, particularly where sexed semen is used. They can also be more cost-efficient with rearing heifers and they can better manage pedigree ‘risk’ and avoid any inbreeding.”

Genetracker is easy to use as it takes advantage of NMR’s tracking and reporting infrastructure. Producers contact NMR Customer Services to request a Genetracker kit that consists of a bar-coded sample plastic wallet used to hold the hair samples and record calf details.

Following clear instructions, samples are collected and sent via NMR to Geneseek, part of the Neogen Corporation and the largest provider of genomic profiling in the world. The service uses the custom GeneSeek Genomic Profiler (GGP) low density BeadChip. This is based on Illumina Infinium chemistry and features nearly 10,000 SNPs, including many for disease and performance traits. The GGP is fast becoming the global standard for performance testing.

Results are available within six or eight weeks via NMR’s iReports. Prior to arriving back with the producer the results are converted into PLI values by DairyCo so producers can benchmark their animals with others in the herd and in the UK dairy population. Currently, 21 type traits, five yield traits, four health traits and two calving traits will be reported. In future, feed efficiency and disease resistance traits will be available.

“This service will appeal to progressive producers who want to be more selective in their breeding,” adds Mr Frankfort. “It will enable them to pre-screen heifers to mate the first time as maidens so that they then only get heifer calves, particularly if they’re using sexed semen, from their superior animals. As it costs as much to rear a bad one as a good one, this will make sound financial sense.”

The test costs from £32 plus VAT. It is recommended that all the heifers in a herd are tested. “It’s impossible to tell which animals are carrying the best genetics just by looking at them or their pedigree. For producers who are looking for a specific improvement, such as fertility or cell counts, it will be essential to test all heifers if they want to make the most of their breeding decisions. There’s no point in testing six heifers in a group of 20.”.


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