Why Genomic Test Your Heifer

Staying ahead of the genetic curve is key to maximizing productivity and profitability. To stay ahead, you must first identify what type of cow is ideal for your operation and then determine how your current herd compares to the ideal. Genomic testing is your tool to do just that and unlock the potential of your herd as a dairy producer. Genomic testing involves analyzing the genetic makeup of animals and provides valuable insights into their potential performance. In this blog, we will answer several questions about why you should consider genomic testing your heifers. 

What does genomic testing help producers achieve?  

Genomic testing allows producers to create a genetic roster for all the females in the herd. With that information, you can accurately rank the herd based on an index, which we suggest is a Custom Index that is customizable for the ideal cow in your operation. Using genomic testing and a Custom Index allows you to be certain in your decision of which females you want to produce replacements and which to breed to beef. Armed with genomic data, dairy producers can design more effective and targeted breeding programs which is, ultimately, the Winning Game Plan of sexed and beef genetics.  

Producers that genomic test can be confident that they are breeding the genetically superior females to sexed semen and the genetically inferior females to beef. The goal of implementing genomic testing is to multiply the best genetics to make faster genetic progress toward a more profitable future herd. 

How does genomic testing benefit producers? 

Genomic testing provides producers with information to make better breeding decisions to make faster genetic progress. Those better-informed breeding decisions improve the genetic potential of the future herd to produce more pounds of fat and protein or fluid milk, breed back faster, and have more problem-free lactations. Producers use their goals, vision of the ideal cows that work in their facilities, and milk market to create their Custom Index that sets the trajectory for creating a more profitable future herd.  

A producer invests a lot of money in raising heifers. The cost to raise a dairy replacement from birth to freshening is approximately $2,100 to $2,200 per head, nationally. Keep in mind this could be different based on the producer and area around the country. By using genomics, a producer can have confidence they are investing money in the replacement with the best genetic potential to thrive when it is time to pay the bills in their milking herd.  

In short, genomic testing provides insights to save producers time and money while simultaneously increasing profitability. Producers can identify what genetics they want to invest in as replacements, find productive females to keep in the milking herd but breed to beef, and create a more ideal herd for the future of the operation.  

How does genomic testing help producers reach their goals? 

Genomics adds precision through improved reliabilities. Reliability refers to how confident one can be that the listed (estimated) breeding value is the true breeding value. You can also think of it as the margin of error. If the reliability is 99, then the animal’s true value is very likely to be the listed value. If the reliability is 10, then it means there is a greater chance that the animal’s true breeding value is different. 

Accuracy is a key part of the genetic process equation and it is determined by the reliabilities of key traits making it a tool to make greater genetic advancements. . Using genomic testing results over traditional parent average method more than doubles reliabilities which in turn accelerates genetic progress by increasing the confidence in an animal’s true breeding value. Using genomic testing increases how precise you are in ranking your females and making your breeding decisions. Having actionable data empowers a farm to make better decisions to drive efficiency and profitability.  

Accelerating genetic progress through utilizing a Custom Index and implementing genomic testing is the foundation of GENEadvance. This program fast-tracks genetic improvement in your herd to deliver better future herd performance by improving the selection accuracy of replacements and helping producers make better breeding decisions. On average, we see GENEadvance herds breed a quarter to a third of their herd differently, in terms of what gets bred sexed or beef, when they use genomic testing to rank their herd rather than parent averages. 

Partnership Equates to Faster Progress 

The greatest value in finding the right partner is the support you receive. A partnership with ABS gives you access to expertise and data management. As a genetic company, we have the tools and know-how to make genetic progress faster depending on a herd’s operational goals.  

If a herd chooses to genomic test, the benefit is the data assisting you in making better breeding decisions. The struggle can be utilizing the data correctly. However, we are equipped as a genetic provider to deliver insights and apply the data effectively in a genetic plan. Partnering with ABS takes genomic testing from endless columns on a spreadsheet to actionable decisions that result in faster genetic progress. 

To learn more about genomic testing, becoming a GENEadvance herd, or creating a Custom Index for your operation, contact your ABS Representative

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