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Genex to Debut New Dairy Health Traits

SHAWANO, Wisconsin — With the December sire summaries, Genex Cooperative, Inc. will publish Subclinical Ketosis, Metritis and Foot Health breeding values for Holstein sires.

“These proprietary breeding values were developed because each condition has a profound impact on cow health and dairy profitability,” states Keith Heikes, Chief Operating Officer of Genex, a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International (CRI). “These new breeding values are prime examples of the cooperative’s dedication to data-driven innovation for the genetic improvement of members’ herds.”

W-13258-16-Health-Traits.jpgSubclinical Ketosis
The new Subclinical Ketosis (SCK) breeding value is an industry-leading comprehensive measure that takes into consideration both clinical (observed) and subclinical ketosis. When used in conjunction with sire selection criteria, like the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index, improvement is expected in animal health and profitability.

Development of the SCK breeding value is the result of industry collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Dairy Science Department and School of Veterinary Medicine researchers and CRI subsidiary AgSource Cooperative Services. They established that the most accurate predictor of blood BHBA (a measure of ketosis) is a combination of milk sample component analysis from cows 5 to 20 days in milk and 14 data points about the cow and her environment. Researchers with the CRI International Center for Biotechnology (ICB) then utilized the phenotypic data collected by AgSource from over 330,000 cows and a database of more than 100,000 genotypes from Genex males and females to develop the SCK breeding values.

A second tool for combatting conditions affecting fresh cows is the Metritis (MTR) breeding value. MTR was developed by CRI ICB researchers based on analysis of the cooperative’s research database, which contains nearly 4 million cows and more than 26 million recorded health events.

Foot Health
Like SCK and MTR, the new Genex proprietary Foot Health (FH) trait was developed to help producers breed for healthier cattle. Foot health or lameness is particularly important today from both an economic and animal welfare point of view. Demonstrating foot health’s impact on dairies, the CRI research database indicates a 14.8% lameness prevalence and industry studies indicate financial impacts can range from $130 to over $450 per case. 

“Development of the SCK, MTR and FH breeding values is another example of our commitment to industry leadership and innovation,” states Heikes. “Use of these breeding values, in conjunction with selection criteria like the ICC$ index, will enable Genex members and customers to further improve on the health and well-being of their cows and to positively impact farm productivity and profitability.”

Watch for the SCK, MTR and FH evaluations for Genex Holstein sires to be included in December sire summary materials.

About Genex
Genex Cooperative, Inc., headquartered in Shawano, Wisconsin, is the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers across the U.S. This is accomplished through 950 dedicated employees working in three product and service segments: cattle genetics and reproduction, livestock marketing, and milking and farmstead equipment. Genex is a subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International. Learn more at http://genex.crinet.com.