National Milk Records (NMR) is showcasing its genomic testing service GeneEze at UK Dairy Day. And to demonstrate the ‘hidden talents’ of young heifers, it is putting farmers’ stock-judging skills to the test, asking them to visit the stand and use visual assessment and published parent-average data to rank four heifers according to their genomic PLI.

Furthermore, there’s £500 up for grabs for the right entry. If there’s more than one NMR will draw a name from the correct entries.

GeneEze (previously called GeneTracker) is NMR’s genomic testing service. It uses a tissue sample for heifer calves, often taken at the point of ear tagging soon after birth, and carries out the testing in its own UK-based genomic-testing laboratory.

“GeneEze is a straight-forward genomic testing service that provides farmers with the full range of UK evaluation results including gPLI – the main commercial index provided by AHDB for dairy cattle,” says NMR’s genomics manager Richard Miller.

“Genomic tests are proven to be approximately 60% more accurate in predicting an animal’s genetic potential, compared to using parent average and ancestral data, as the test is based on the animal’s own DNA.

“This allows farmers to identify, rear and breed from heifers and cows in their herd that will best meet their goals, and to achieve much faster rates of genetic progress.”

NMR supplies a fully-integrated genomic testing service. It can supply tags for taking tissue samples, that are used for genomic testing in its in-house testing facility. Results from genomic tests are published alongside the cow’s NMR recording information on Herd Companion so farmers and advisers can then see all the information on one place.”

Costs vary depending on the number of tests that a herd commits to, but even for the smallest volumes the basic genomic test via GeneEze will be under £25.