Revolutionizing Dairy Breeding: Unlock a heifer’s potential with genomic testing

In this report from Holstein Association USA, we hear from Dan Weigel of Zoetis U.S. on how genomic testing provides this valuable insight.

With escalating input costs and a burgeoning market for beef-on-dairy calves, the need for well-informed breeding decisions has reached a critical juncture. Leading the charge in this paradigm shift is Dan Weigel of Zoetis U.S. In this report from Holstein Association USA, we hear from Weigel about how Zoetis’ groundbreaking genomic testing provides producer critical insights and reshaping the landscape of dairy farming.

In the pursuit of better breeding decisions, Zoetis provides two powerful tools: the Clarifide and Clarifide-Plus genomic tests. Dan Weigel emphasizes the importance of focusing on pre-breeding heifers. Analyzing performance records, including conception and pregnancy rates for the current and previous generations, becomes pivotal in shaping the trajectory of each heifer’s future.

“Heifers are actually selling for very good money right now; so rather than continue to put the expensive feed into them, we can cash those heifers in and really push people to use the information,” Weigel said. “The key lies in asking strategic questions: Will you use sexed semen? Will you breed for beef-cross calves? These decisions, when aligned with genomic data, maximize information and profitability per cow.”

Genomic data is not just about immediate results. Rather, Weigel asserts, it is about envisioning a future where a female fits best within the herd.

“I challenge producers to not think about where they’re at today — but, what if they focus their efforts on their best animals? Would they perform better?” prompts Weigel. The answer often lies in leveraging sexed semen on superior animals, making Holstein cows and heifers more fertile than ever before.

The results from Clarifide-Plus extend beyond mere data points. They contribute to the Dairy Wellness Profit Index, a comprehensive metric encompassing cow and calf wellness, production, fertility, functional type, longevity, livability, calving ability, and milk quality traits. “Continuous improvement is our mantra,” says Weigel, highlighting Zoetis’ commitment to refining the index for specific dairies.

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