One of the world’s highest ranked genomic heifers found on Scottish farm

A UK heifer has been identified as one of the highest-ranking genomic Holstein females in the world and the highest in the UK after being assessed using the genomic test CLARIFIDE® Plus.

April 2020-born Netherside Gail 141 owned by Scottish dairy farmer Tom Yuill, West Newton Farm, Strathaven, has the highest Dairy Wellness Profit (DWP) index of any female tested in the UK of 1027 and a £PLI of 688.

DWP is a bespoke selection index included in CLARIFIDE Plus that is based not only on lifetime productivity but also health, giving an overall view as to how profitable a heifer could be. It incorporates traits for production, fertility, and health, among others. With a particularly strong emphasis on wellness, it is designed to select for longer lived animals that succumb to less disease and deliver more profit over their lifetime.

Globally, Gail 141 ranks in the top 1% for DWP and was No. 23 on the July proof in the USA. She also ranks in the top 1% globally for Holstein Feed Efficiency Index, in the top 5% for fat solids and the top 20% for health traits such as metritis and calf respiratory disease.

The heifer was tested in the spring along with a further 106 females at Strathaven Farm. DWP results ranged from -69 to 1027, with an average of 406. This is well above the UK average of 270.

Mr Yuill says the results came as a surprise. “I never expected to have the highest ranking DWP heifer in the UK, however, Gail 141 has been bred from good stock. Her mother was previously our highest PLI heifer bred from one of our best families, the Gails, which have provided a number of bulls sold to Genus.”

Mr Yuill will use the data to more accurately select which animals to retain as replacements and what sires to put them to. He plans to flush Gail 141 when she is 14-15 months old breeding her to the best matched DWP bull.

He also intends on continuing to genomically test the herd using CLARIFIDE Plus. He said: “Genomics is a long-term investment with results not seen overnight. If we use the results correctly it should help us produce more profitable longer lasting cows allowing for lower replacement rates.”

Commenting on the results, Zoetis Ruminant Veterinary Consultant Joshua Batterham, said: “The results have shown that Gail’s combination of genetics gives her the potential to be a very high yielding animal with a small and efficient body size. At the same time, she is genetically less likely to suffer from common calf and cow health conditions than many of her pen mates.

“This is one of the major benefits of testing animals using CLARIFIDE Plus. Being the only test that includes the Dairy Wellness Profit index, which incorporates production, reproduction, health, type and wellness, it is ideal to base selection and breeding decisions on.”

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