Genomic test selects heifers based on disease risk

13 Jun 2019

A genomic test that incorporates health and wellness traits, in addition to the production traits delivered by standard testing, has been launched by Zoetis.

CLARIFIDE Plus is the first available dairy genetic evaluation specifically designed for cow and calf wellness traits in Holstein and Jersey cattle in the UK.

Genomic selection

And it means that producers will be able to genomically select heifers based on their risk of developing diseases and conditions including: mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum, and ketosis.

Information on the likelihood of their calves developing calf scours and respiratory disease, as well as the likelihood of calf mortality will also be available.

Wellness index

The test also includes a bespoke Dairy Wellness Profit Index (DWP). DWP is based on lifetime productivity and health, giving an overall view as to how profitable a cow will be.

“DWP incorporates production, reproduction, health, type, and wellness. And this makes it  ideal to base cow selections on,” says Zoetis’ Dave Armstrong.

“Producers can use the wellness-trait predictions within the test to effectively predict future health performance.”

Performance benefits

On UK farms, the difference in lifetime profitability between the top and bottom 10% of animals ranked by DWP is around £1,029. When the top third of cows are compared with the bottom third for individual wellness traits there was, for example, 38% less incidence of retained placenta and 76% less incidence of metritis.

“Selecting for traits that have an emphasis on health, longevity and wellness, allows producers to make decisions earlier and invest in rearing healthy animals,” adds Dr Armstrong.

More profitable

“Cows selected using this tool are 106% more profitable during their lifetime compared to selecting by parent average. And cows in the top 25% are, on average, more than twice as likely to stay healthy as cows in the bottom 25%.”