Health traits such as survival and fertility underpin Australia's latest crop of young dairy females.
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DataGene stakeholder relations specialist Peter Thurn.

As the industry’s next bull mothers, these elite heifers embody the vital longevity, welfare and milk quality traits that Australian farmers need to run profitable modern businesses.

Some of these females also have Balanced Performance Index’s (BPI) of more than 500.

This list of Australia’s top 200 genomic tested dairy females, ranked according to DataGene’s BPI was released on Monday and accompanies the triannual official Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) bull rankings.

DataGene stakeholder relations specialist Peter Thurn said Australia’s elite BPI females average score up to 116 for survival and average 110.

This means the average animal in this group is 10-points more than the average Australian Holstein female.

“This emphasis on health – without negatively affecting production – just shows how far Australian herd improvement has come,” Mr Thurn said.

“Health traits – that fundamentally underpin profit – were never more valued than they are now.”

“But since the introduction of the BPI and Health Weighted Index (HWI) the gains for health and fertility traits are now at the forefront of the industry.”

For example, the average Daughter Fertility ABV of nation’s top 200 genomically tested Holstein heifers is 113.

“It is great to see that breeders have taken up the challenge of improving fertility in Holsteins – it was something the industry wanted,” Mr Thurn said.

“And now we are seeing the results because sons of these elite cows have a much greater chance of transmitting superior fertility to their daughters.”

“This means we will continue to breed the profitable and healthy cows we need for the future.”

For Jerseys, type, mammary and survival were standout traits for the top 100 genomic tested heifers – all vital traits for longevity.

“At a time when there is a lot of focus on inbreeding, it is pleasing to see that 31 different sires are represented in the pedigrees of the top 100 genomic BPI Jersey heifers,” Mr Thurn said.

Genomics became available in the Red Breeds late last year, providing Red breeders and bull companies with an added layer of confidence when selecting the future bull mothers.

“It’s only early days, but it is pleasing to see our Red breeders engage with genomics,” Mr Thurn said.

“They are uncovering some truly outstanding young females, so watch this space.”

Bull gains

Twelve years ago, the Good Bulls Guide was introduced, and it has been updated three times a year since.

A manual for dairy farmers, it makes choosing “Good Bulls” easy by ranking them according to economic and health traits.

Holstein bulls that previously sat atop industry indices have been overtaken by modern sires.

Bulls at the top of the ABV rankings now have BPIs of more than 550 – double that of flagship bulls a decade ago.

“If that’s how far we have come in 10 years, imagine what the future holds with all the technology our industry has access to,” Mr Thurn said.

A2 Milk Company Ltd (ATM.NZ) said on Wednesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deferred its request to sell infant milk formula products in the United States, sending its shares down more than 12%.

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