A simple yet comprehensive genomic test from Zoetis that will help increase milk yields and profit margins in future years is now available through vets and National Milk Records.

According to Cumbria-based dairy farmer, Patrick Morris-Eyton, it's a test every farmer should take advantage of as a cost-effective way to find out accurately the predicted performance of individual heifers.

The test, Clarifide, gives strategic breeding options with the added value of a consultancy package through trained veterinary surgeons. It allows testing of animals from six breeds; Holstein, British Friesian, Guernsey, Jersey, Ayrshire and Brown Swiss and with just one simple test and up to 70% reliability, gives a prediction on;

• Health and fitness

• Production and management

• Type and composites

• Milk protein components

• Parentage and inbreeding

This is compared to just 15-30% reliability when selecting heifers using parent averages, or, less than 1% if selecting by eye.

Test results are accessible on a intuitive online analysis tool, called SearchPoint which allows farmers to determine which animals will be most profitable on their farm. As well as access to important UK traits and £PLI (Profitable Lifetime Index), US data is also available as an optional extra.

The partnership with NMR will increase the accessibility of the new test for farmers by making the test available through vet practices and NMR.

NMR will continue to offer its Genetracker genomics testing service – powered Clarifide – which will now be available to all main dairy breeds.

Zoetis genomics business manager, Phil Cullinan said: “Having easy access to Clarifide will help farmers speed up genetic progress and reduce upfront costs on farm. It costs £2.31 a day or £1819.01 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 earlier, farmers can manage the upfront costs by only keeping the heifers they want and significantly increase their overall rate of genetic gain.”

Richard Miller, NMR’s genomics manager, added: “Clarifide and Genetracker users will benefit from a more integrated and comprehensive service. Both services will have automatic access to Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) data and offer accurate reporting and results analysis options.

Dairy farmer Patrick Morris-Eyton added: “£33 is nothing compared to rearing a heifer and it is a cost-effective way to find out accurately what the predicted performance of that animal is. Anyone in a commercial herd that is not genomic testing is bonkers,” he said.

Although he has only been genomic testing heifers for the past two years, he has already seen a big improvement. His herd’s average £PLI has increased from £260 to £300 and has taken it from the top 15% based on £PLI to the top 5%.

New to the UK, Clarifide is well established in other markets where the impact on tested farms has been substantial with improved profitability more than twice as fast as the industry average.

Farmers using the new test have also seen increased milk production, a reduction in their calving to conception interval and improvement in first service conception of 14% by breeding from the top 25% compared to the bottom 25%.