Australian red dairy cattle breeders can now use the genomic information from DNA samples of their animals to make herd improvement decisions.
For the first time, DataGene has released Australian Breeding Values that include genomics and are applicable for red-breed dairy animals and their crosses.
Aussie Reds, Ayrshires, Illawarras and Dairy Shorthorns have joined Holsteins and Jerseys with genomic ABVs, with enough data collected for scientists to generate genomic breeding values for four key traits.
Red-breed genomic ABVs are available for milk, fat, protein and cell count.
These breeding values will be released three times a year in April, August and December.
DataGene stakeholder relations specialist Peter Thurn said farmers could use genomics to help make breeding and culling decisions.
“The addition of genomics to the red-breed ABVs will give farmers more confidence to be able to identify their better young stock with a greater degree of reliability,” Mr Thurn said.
“Genomics will help with the decisions around heifer retention, sales and whether or not they should be joined to a beef bull.
“Farmers can start to tailor breeding decisions around the genetic merit of their young stock.”
Mr Thurn said the introduction of genomic ABVs would also enable artificial breeding centres to purchase red bulls with greater confidence, while these bulls could be used at a younger age on-farm with more reassurance about the genetic merit of their progeny.
DataGene has used genomics for the genetic evaluation of Jerseys and Holsteins for the past 10 years.
These breeds have more genomic ABV traits than what is available for the red-breed group, because Holsteins and Jerseys have a larger population and more data to draw from.
DataGene will continue to work with red-breed farmers to collect data to build the reliability and offering of genomic ABVs.
It will also collaborate with other countries and bull companies to bolster Australia’s reference population for red breeds by adding their genotypes.
Cohuna Aussie Red breeder Greg Goulding said the addition of genomic ABVs would improve his herd and help to objectively prove the value of the breed.
“Genomics will definitely give our herd a big boost, we’ll be able to genomically test heifers, off-load that bottom-end group and use the top-end to breed replacements for quicker genetic gain,” Mr Goulding said.
Source: The Corowa Free Press