Business Farming

Thursday 2 October 2014

David is a firm believer in the power of genomics

Genomics

Published 18/06/2014 | 02:30

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ANSWERS: David Moore reckons genomics can bring a higher level of accuracy when assessing a cow’s potential
ANSWERS: David Moore reckons genomics can bring a higher level of accuracy when assessing a cow’s potential

David Moore is a big fan of genomics.

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"It just gives us a much higher level of accuracy in terms of the genetic potential of the cow. And I've yet to see it being proven wrong," said Mr Moore.

So impressed with the power of the technology were the Moore's that they took the decision to genomically test every animal in the herd in the last year.

"We were doing the calves since we were selling a few into AI and wanted to be able to select the heifers that we wanted to keep for breeding and the ones that we should sell as fresh calvers every year.

"It was costing about €30/hd but we did all the cows for €15 this year."

With a focus on dropping their calving interval from 427 days down to the current interval of a little more than 365 days, fertility sub-indexes suddenly became an important breeding tool.

The net result is that the herd's EBI has more than doubled since 2010 to an average of 166 in 2013.

Indeed, one of the best performing cows in the herd is an Oman daughter with an EBI of 222. She produced a massive 1,000kg of milk solids in 365 days last year, and is the type of cow that David is aiming to breed.

"I don't think that we should be trying to get any more milk out of our cows, but there is certainly room for improvement in terms of how we manage them. At the moment, our calving spread is at nine months.

"I think we'll be able to get that to seven months next year and down to 14 weeks within three years. Our current spread is a hangover from our liquid milk contract into Premier in Glanbia, but I'm aiming for six weeks in the autumn and eight weeks in the spring."

He doesn't see the farm specialising in producing high EBI animals, even though they have already built up a €100,000 annual trade in fresh heifer sales and high EBI bull calves.

"Anybody can do what we're doing here in terms of focusing on genomics. We're just trying to maximise the potential of our cows as fast as possible because that's what will maximise our profitability as fast as possible."

And what about a bit of cross-breeding to increase the profitability even further?

"I think that a high EBI Holstein that calves every year can't be beaten in profitability. She'll also allow you to maximise output within the confines of the nitrates directive."

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