Calves That Are Tailor Made for Our Needs; GENOMICS CONFIRMS GENETICS PROGRESS AT MARIAN MAWR

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), October 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Calves That Are Tailor Made for Our Needs; GENOMICS CONFIRMS GENETICS PROGRESS AT MARIAN MAWR


Byline: ANDREW FORGRAVE Rural Affairs Editor farming@dailypost.co.uk

USING genomics to breed the best females is eliminating unproductive replacement heifers at a North Wales dairy farm.

Already the approach is paying dividends at Marian Mawr, near Rhyl, where all but one of its heifers have been shown to have a positive Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI).

Over time this approach should enable the business to tailor its herd to fit its farming system.

The uplift in the herd's genetic value was revealed during a Farming Connect project in which heifer tissue samples were taken using NMR's GeneTracker service.

Laurence Loxam, of NMR, said genomic testing gave an immediate indication of genetic merit, rather than having to wait for an animal to calve and start milking.

This means specific animals can be selected to produce replacements depending on the farm's individual breeding requirements.

"Genomics gives us information that we have had no chance of knowing in the past," Mr Loxam explained.

He said that even in an expanding herd, it was inadvisable to breed from an animal with a negative PLI.

"If you do keep her in the herd, put her on to a beef animal - but don't breed your replacements from her," he said.

"If you have got a percentage of animals with negative PLIs, why would you keep them in the herd if they are not going to make you any money?" At Marian Mawr, a Farming Connect demo farm, the Morris family milk 400 Holsteins with 100 heifer replacements reared annually. …

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