Monday, 26 September 2016 12:28

Genetic merit and profit link out from under the microscope

Written by 
Jo Newton Jo Newton

TWENTY-SEVEN dairy farms across Australia will be put under the microscope to prove the link between genetic merit of animals and on-farm performance. 

Speaking to Dairy News Australia as part of last month’s Future Ready Expo in Bega, research scientist Dr Jo Newton said the Improving Herds project will ensure the science behind genetics is backed up by real-world application. 

‘’It’s one thing to do genetic research in an office building somewhere, but it’s another to actually take what you’ve learned and translate it into real on-farm applications and results,” Dr Newton, from the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)  said. 

The project has genomic tested each focus farms’ rising two year old heifers, totalling more than 2500. 

“So now we already have information about the genetic merit of these animals before we know their lactation, their susceptibility to disease, etc and through the lifetime of the project we will be able to follow these cows, through their first lactation, through their second lactation and see how that performance in the dairy translates back to their predicted genetic merit,” Dr Newton said. 

“We’re looking to demonstrate the value that better data recording and high genetic merit can contribute to farmer profit.”  

Previous research has confirmed high genetic merit cows are more profitable. 

 ‘’The focus farm model enables the information to be gathered at various regions and various types of farm systems.’’ 

Dr Newton said environmental factors – such as mastitis – are accounted for within the study. 

“’One of the advantages of looking across some many different focus farms is that we can look within a herd. 

‘’And when you are comparing animals within the same herd, they are subject to the same management routines and environmental conditions.”’ 

The Improving Herds project has been developed by the Gardiner Foundation, lead by DEDJTR and supported by Dairy Australia, ADHIS, National Herd Improvement Association and Holstein Australia.

More like this

Don’t pay top dollar to breed a top herd

GREG Ault’s Holstein herd ranks in Australia’s top 10% but he doesn’t use the most expensive bulls on the market. His experience proves that you don’t have to pay top dollar to breed a top herd.

Delving into dairy DNA

THE number of dairy animals DNA tested – or genotyped – in Australia has escalated in the four years since commercial services became available with improvements in reliability, lower costs and greater understanding of the ways results can be used to improve genetic gain.

More from this category

Increased Euro dairy production no threat


THE MOVE to a more liberal market regime in European dairy will not pose a significant threat to the Australian industry, according to an international dairy specialist.

Northern NSW grass factory

UP ON the Northern Rivers of NSW – the top, eastern corner that abuts Queensland and the Gold Coast – they reckon Cory Crosthwaite is far and away the best grass grower around.

The Tweedside dairy’s 94ha, all sandy loam river flats apart from 8ha of red volcanic ‘hill’, produces more than 20,000kg of dry matter/ha a year, while pastures on your average dairy farm in the region do around 3500kgDM/ha/year. 

Effluent on pasture returns nutrients

THE RE-USE of second pond effluent back onto pasture will help return valuable nutrients to the soil, a six-year study has found.

The study at the DemoDAIRY research and demonstration farm at Terang tested a range of application rates of second pond effluent to pasture to determine how much can be safely applied.

It recommended that correct use of second pond effluent should be encouraged on dairy farms but found applying too much on the same land could have negative environmental impacts.

Fighting kikuyu invasion

A WEST Australia farmer is planning high sugar grass trials with the aim of holding back the kikuyu invasion of his dairy farm south of Perth.

Victor Rodwell, who milks 840 Holstein Friesians and crossbreds on a dairy platform of 250ha at Boyanup, 200km south of Perth, plans to sow more AberMagic high sugar ryegrass this autumn for its persistent and dense tiller and root growth, as well as its high nutritional value.

Change your rhythm to make lasting changes

I WAS recently informed that over 90% of what we do and how we do it is out of habit or routine and very little is spontaneous or based on the information on hand at the time.

Initially I wanted to challenge this suggestion but found that it is true in my life.

Summer rain can herald problems for livestock

THE VICTORIAN Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising livestock producers that while the recent rain could provide valuable green feed, they need to keep close watch on their stock to avoid possible health problems.

MANY FARM tracks are in need of serious maintenance after the wet conditions prevalent across most of Australia last year. Following are some practical tips that will hopefully help save time and money when the season permits some repair work.


The Stony Rises, near Colac, are aptly named.  While the soil is rich with nutrients and the rainfall consistently good, the land is disrupted by a vast number of basalt rocks caused by volcanic activity from thousands of years ago.

During the past month, I have received many calls regarding employment – the majority seeking clarification from people on whether they are employing or being employed correctly.

A new scanning device fitted to a four-wheel motorbike could revolutionise the way landholders   plan their attacks on red-headed cockchafers.


As we head out of the wettest summer on record how do we capitalise on the good conditions and turn it into ongoing benefit for our business?

WITH LAND prices of $19,000/hectare throughout Western Victoria, dairy farmers Mark and Kim Bayne were forced to think outside the square to get their own farm.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.\nBasic HTML code is allowed.

» Get social

When butter and chocolate collide

TWO New Zealand companies Lewis Road Creamery and Whittakers have teamed up to deliver what must be every dairy lover’s dream: chocolate butter.

» E-Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required