Genomics key to smaller, more productive dairy herds

The call for dairy farmers to prepare now for a future with a smaller herd of higher producing cows than today is dependent on access to dairy sires which are superior to their contemporaries of even a year ago.

In the United States and around the world, farmers are recognising that genomic sires are light years ahead of daughter proven sires because they have been selected for the traits farmers need today, and tomorrow – not yesterday.

Hank Lina, General Manager of World Wide Sires New Zealand, said demand for genomically proven bulls in the United States is now greater than for daughter proven.

“That’s not surprising. World Wide Sires began genomically proving bulls in 2009 based on one of the largest base populations in the world comprising more than 1 million genotyped animals. The size and depth of that dataset provides a very high level of accuracy in genomic prediction – and that has led to the confidence we are now seeing amongst American farmers.

“The New Zealand experience with genomics is at odds with the rest of the world – largely because this country simply doesn’t have the large dataset of genotyped animals needed to generate strong and consistent daughter performance.”

“In the United States, UK and Australia genomic sires now accounts for more than 65% of World Wide Sires’ sales – and this percentage is increasing year on year because those bulls are delivering.”

“Genomics technology has allowed the industry to shorten the generation interval very aggressively in the last five years – and the increase in the number of animals being commercially DNA tested has expanded the genomic database increasing the reliability. This explains why US dairymen are switching more of their breeding to genomic sires. However, there remains a strong demand for proven bulls for farmers who prefer homogeneous genetic progress over maximum speed so World Wide Sires is still delivering these proven bulls to the market with reliable calving ease and semen fertility information.”

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