A new genomic test incorporating health and wellness traits in addition to the production traits delivered by standard testing has been launched by Zoetis.

Clarifide Plus™ is the first available dairy genetic evaluation specifically designed for cow and calf wellness traits in Holstein and Jersey cattle in the UK, which will enable farmers to genomically select heifers based on their risk for developing mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum and ketosis.

Additionally, information will be available on the likelihood of their calves developing calf scours, calf respiratory diseases and mortality levels.

The new test includes a Dairy Wellness Profit Index (DWP), based on lifetime productivity and health, giving an overall view as to how profitable a cow will be. While, standard genomic testing allows for a prediction on an animal’s potential, Clarifide Plus gives a prediction on the ability for that animal to remain healthy and fulfil it’s potential.

“DWP incorporates production, reproduction, health, type and wellness making it ideal to base your cow selections on. You can use the wellness trait predictions within the new test to effectively predict future health performance," said Zoetis vet, Dr Dave Armstrong.

On UK farms, he said the difference in lifetime profitability between the top and bottom 10% of animals ranked by DWP is approximately £1029. When the top third of cows are compared with the bottom third for individual wellness traits there was;

• 38% less incidence of a retained placenta

• 76% less incidence of developing metritis

• 49% less incidence of getting lameness

• 49% less incidence of mastitis

Dr Armstrong added: “Selecting for traits that have an emphasis on health, longevity and wellness, allows producers to make decisions earlier and invest in raising healthy animals. Healthier cows stay in the herd longer and make a big difference in a herd’s profitability.

“Cows selected using Clarifide Plus are 106% more profitable over a lifetime compared to selecting by parent average – assuming selction of 85% of females as replacements compared to selecting by parent average – and those in the top 25% are on average, more than twice as likely to stay healthy as cows in the bottom 25%,” he said.

According to Mr Armstrong, it costs £2.31 a day or £1819.012 on average to rear a dairy heifer replacement with the payback taking until the middle of her second lactation. By predicting a heifer’s ability and health earlier, farmers can manage the upfront costs by only keeping the heifers they want, keeping them in the herd longer and significantly increase their overall rate of genetic gain.