2015-09-02   facebooktwitterrss

New Genetracker Paves the Way to Improved Breeding Efficiency

‘Backing’ the right heifer or cow to breed from doesn’t need to be so much of a gamble, thanks to GeneTracker – a new service that will be demonstrated by NMR at the UK Dairy Day, Telford, September 16, 2015.

GeneTracker can genotype Holstein heifers from a month old. “It has an accuracy rate between 65% and 70%, dependent on the trait,” says genomics adviser Lucy Andrews-Noden, who is heading up the service for NMR. “That’s equivalent to data derived from animals at the end of their second lactation. It’s a lot of time to take off the waiting game and it avoids expensive mistakes.”

group of calves for genetracker

group of calves for genetracker

Not only that, but Mrs Andrews-Noden explains that it allows producers to select the best heifers to rear for maximum genetic gain within the herd and, by identifying those calves with any weaknesses, it reduces the risk of rearing ‘passengers’.

“It increases the efficiency of the dairy herd. It only takes three poor heifers to be identified through GeneTracker and taken out of the herd to cover the cost of 100 tests,” she adds.

GeneTracker uses tissue from the animal that is tested in a dedicated lab. Data derived from this is then evaluated and processed through AHDB Dairy and HUK. “The best time to take tissue samples is at dehorning and it’s much easier, more reliable and far less hassle than using hair.

“GeneTracker supplies a unique Tissue Sampling Unit or ‘TSU’ that is allocated and bar coded to a specific animal, making the sample easy and of the highest reliability and quality”

Available to any herd with official milk records, GeneTracker provides the standard 31 genomically-evaluated herd-management traits, as well as a number of key genetic recessive results such as Blad, coat colour and polled.

GeneTracker information is available in iReports that can be customised to suit each producer. “This helps decision making – producers can see genetic potential very quickly and make accurate breeding decisions that are supported with production, health, fertility and conformation data and associated GPLI and GTM indexes,” adds Mrs Andrews-Noden.

“In effect you’re screening heifers – and older cows – to identify expensive passengers and avoid high rearing costs and to identify which heifers to potentially sell or target the use of sexed semen. It provides the accurate data for making earlier decisions on the direction of the herd’s breeding.”


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