5 April 2019
DataGene is on the look out for dairy farmers who keep meticulous records to join Ginfo, the industry’s national reference group for genetic information.
Participating herds will have their 2-year-old heifers DNA tested (genotyped) and classified for free and have the option to test young female calves at a discount. They also receive a year’s free subscription to the HerdData app and early access to DataGene’ s reports and tools under development.
To be eligible, herds need to be regularly herd-testing and recording information such as calvings, joinings, sires and dams, pregnancy test results and health events such as mastitis.
DataGene CEO, Dr Matt Shaffer, said Ginfo had enabled Australia to lead the world in genomic breeding values for traits that are difficult to measure such as feed saved and heat tolerance.
“Ginfo is a critical data set in the genetic evaluation system for the Australian dairy industry. It’s enabled us to develop new breeding values and to improve the reliability of existing breeding values, especially fertility,” Dr Shaffer said.
Over the next couple of years, DataGene plans to double the number of herds in Ginfo to about 200. Ginfo herds are located across Australia’s eight dairying regions.
DataGene manages Ginfo on behalf of the dairy industry, in collaboration with Holstein Australia, Jersey Australia, DairyBio, Agriculture Victoria and Dairy Australia.
Gippsland: “Anthea and I believe in the importance of an Australian Herd Improvement Industry and that genetic growth creates profit, so it is easy to be involved with something as important as Ginfo. One of the big advantages for us comes in the form of subsidized genome testing of our young stock. We genome test all our calves and use this information to help build our business strategy.” Trevor Saunders and Anthea Day, Shady Creek, Gippsland, milking 750 predominantly Jersey.
Western Victoria: “Ginfo is a great tool for the entire dairy industry by providing the latest genetic information and adding to genetic reliability. At an individual farm level, Ginfo means you have genetic accuracy because of genomic testing, and the ability to make informed selection decisions because of the access to early genomics on young heifers. There are a lot of really good farmers are involved in the Ginfo project so it also gives participants access a great network of progressive famers.” Sam McCluggage Allansford, Victoria, milking 700 Holsteins.
Northern Victoria: Being part of Ginfo hasn’t meant changing the way we do things at all as we have to do all the recording anyway for our registered cattle and our Milk Quality audits. The data collected from the Ginfo project means there will be better ABV reliabilities as well as new traits. Jared and Courtney Ireland, Lockington, Vic milking 420 Holsteins.
Tasmania: “Ginfo has benefits for the broader dairy industry as well as the individual farm so I can’t understand why more people aren’t involved. The more information you have, the better armed you are to make the right decisions. Ginfo helps us identify which heifers to keep and rear and which ones to sell and then join the best cows to better bulls.” Bev Carpenter, South Riana, milking more than 900 Holsteins across two herds.
Western Australia “My herd is now a better, stronger and a lot more consistent herd today than it would have been were it not for the Ginfo project and the sum of these gains across all herds strengthens our whole industry…. Contributing my data to help validate the science and technology was not any inconvenience as we were already had good systems of recordkeeping of herd events and were herd testing monthly. Ginfo is about speeding up herd improvement and this has been a win-win; I would thoroughly recommend it.” Ruth McGregor, Busselton, WA, milking 320 Holsteins.
South Australia “We use sexed semen, so we have a lot of heifer calves to choose from and genotyping heifer calves early has meant we can rear the heifer calves we want as replacement and sell our excess heifers at an earlier age.” Gary Zweck Blyth, SA milking 230 Holsteins.
Queensland: “We have good records so it seemed like an obvious thing to get involved in. Any research to help the dairy industry has to be a good thing. We can’t control the milk price but we can control which cows we breed from and which bulls we use, and the Ginfo project is helping with those management decisions.” Ian and Cath Scott, Nanango, Qld milking 220 Holsteins.
NSW: “We’ve always been interested in the genetics and breeding side of the dairy industry and being in Ginfo means we get more information on our cows by accessing genomic testing. It’s giving us a better understanding of our breeding program and which bulls to use over which cows. The more information gathered by the Ginfo project the better because it will result in better reliabilities and help farmers make better breeding decisions.” NSW - Darren Parrish
Bodalla, milking 200 Holsteins.