DNA parentage testing has become more accessible to dairy farmers with the launch of CRV Ambreed’s revitalised DNA parentage testing service this month.
The Gene Mapping service uses progressive technology to identify the ancestry of individual stock.
DNA samples are collected by taking a small piece of tissue from the animal’s ear. Allflex tissue sampling ear tags are either applied to calves at birth, or as buttons on mature animals.
Tissue samples are then sent to CRV’s approved affiliated DNA genotyping laboratory, GenomNZ, where DNA is extracted for parentage and single gene analysis.
CRV Ambreed product development team leader Erin OConnor says the industry will be excited to hear about this service because DNA verification leaves no room for error when deciding on the best direction for the herd.
OConnor says herd records will show exactly who the animal’s sire and dam are through specific genetic markers.
“The farmer will then understand which cows in the herd are the best, and which sires they can be mated to,” she says.
Samples analysed also identify the A2/A2 beta casein status of the individual animal and other defect genes.
CRV Ambreed carried out a trial last year where 4,991 animals were DNA tested over nine farms. Only 41% of the animals tested were recorded with the correct sire.
“The animals with incorrect parentage information also had inaccurate BW, PW and BV information,” OConnor explains. “This information is vital when making on-farm decisions and it would have resulted in misguided mating and culling decisions. “We updated the sire information for 46% of the animals tested, which completely changed the rankings for BW and PW across the herd. Those farmers can now use that information when making decisions around mating and culling.”
Parentage results are sent by CRV Ambreed to New Zealand Animal Evaluation which use the data to identify New Zealand’s most efficient feed convertors to milk.
“Inaccurate parental data is not just an issue dealt with on-farm; it impacts the wider industry too because accurate ancestry information substantiates breeding values and breeding indexes,” OConnor adds.
“Future Animal Evaluation runs that estimate genetic breeding values and indices used in New Zealand will be a lot more accurate.”
OConnor says DNA verified animals may potentially demand higher premiums in the future at stockyards, and could influence farmers’ buying and selling decisions.