Dairy genomic testing service GeneTracker is launching a 9K chip option to make the technology affordable for more dairy farmers.

As a result, dairy producers will now have the choice of the new 9k chip or the higher density 50K chip for collecting key information from the calf's tissue sample.

“We have introduced this lower density chip to appeal to the commercial dairy producer who may not, yet, have started using genomics on dairy heifer calves,” says GeneTracker manager Laurence Loxam.

“The new 9K chip reduces the cost of genomic testing by nearly 20%, to around £25 + VAT for a dairy heifer calf, depending on the number of tests used within a herd.”

Both the 9K and 50K chips provide production, type, health and fertility information on 33 key traits that contribute to efficient milk production.

“Producers can use the information to make better breeding and management decisions that will accelerate improvements in areas specific to the herd and dairy business,” he adds. “Genomics is a management tool that can promote herd sustainability and profitability significantly.”

The 50K chip will also include information on recessive genes that is used by many current GeneTracker users. However, some do not require this detail and rely, for recessive information, on the results of screening tests undertaken by dairy sires.

“Genomic tests are highly reliable and comparable with PTA’s from second lactation cows,” adds Mr Loxam.

“This means that producers know the potential of their heifer calves around six weeks old as opposed to four years old and enables them to make accurate rearing, breeding and management decisions much earlier. This brings significant economic benefits to the herd.”

The new testing service will be launched at AgriScot, Edinburgh, on November 15, 2017.