Improving The Welfare Of Your Cattle With Genomic Testing

Improving The Welfare Of Your Cattle With Genomic Testing

Animal Welfare and Sustainable Farming Practices

In recent years, Australian livestock industries have witnessed a significant transformation thanks to the rapid advancement of genomic testing. This cutting-edge technology has revolutionised how we approach animal health and well-being. From bolstering disease preparedness and boosting productivity to identifying favourable hereditary conditions, it is now an invaluable tool in the livestock farmer’s arsenal. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the pivotal role of genomic testing in rearing cattle and explore how it can be harnessed to elevate the welfare of your herd.

The role of genomic testing in the welfare of cattle

Preventing cattle diseases – Australia

In Australia, the cattle industry faces a range of challenges, but prevention of cattle diseases often takes precedence due to the significant economic impact on cattle producers if left unchecked. One such disease is Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus (BVDV), a complex and highly contagious animal disease caused by bovine pestivirus that MLA has identified as the second most costly disease to Australian cattle, with an estimated economic impact of $114 million per year. This widespread disease results in higher mortality and lower reproduction rates through infertility and abortion, and can quickly spread throughout the herd from persistently infected (PI) animals if left undetected. Diagnostic testing for BVDV plays a crucial role in the early identification of PI diseased animals, allowing their timely removal and preventing further transmission within the herd, improving the herd welfare by reducing the spread of disease.

Informing better breeding decisions

Before their domestication, the presence of horns was important for the survival of wild cattle. Now the absence of horns (Polledness) is of substantial benefit in cattle from both an economical and welfare point of view, as it reduces the risk of injury to both cattle and handler, among other benefits. Bruising alone, which is a common consequence of horn-related injuries, is estimated to cost the Australian beef cattle industry $20 million annually (DPI NSW). Traditionally this issue has been addressed through dehorning practices, which is undeniably painful and distressing for the animal, but advancements in genomic testing have offered an improved approach to this problem. By identifying animals that have this desirable genetic trait, farmers can develop informed breeding plans and progress towards a more sustainable herd.

If you are already sending TSU’s for genotyping, there is no need to send anything additional as we can use these samples to screen.

Equip yourself to make better breeding decisions and reduce the spread of diseases like BVDV, contact us today.

Enhancing productivity and the efficiency of resource usage

Genomic testing in cattle farming goes beyond health management; it also enables on-farm efficiency, improving beef quality and ultimately maximising profitability. The information generated as part of 50K genomic testing can be used to assess an animal’s genetic merit for specific traits, referred to as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs). EBVs cover many economically important traits, such as net feed intake, intramuscular fat (marbling), and carcass weight. By selecting bulls with high EBVs for desirable traits, you can ultimately work towards enhanced productivity and efficiency of resource usage, with cost-saving potential in the long run.

Conserving genetic diversity by identifying rare or unique traits

Genetic diversity describes the biological variation within a species, encompassing a wide range of characteristics from physical attributes to adaptive traits. Conserving genetic diversity is of paramount importance, as diversity is ultimately what makes it possible for a species to adapt to a changing environment. A herd with low genetic diversity has a limited variety of alleles (alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation), resulting in individuals that are highly similar, meaning that they have the same strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, negative traits can be amplified if not stamped out.

A herd with high genetic diversity is more likely to contain a variant that provides a protective advantage against new diseases or environmental factors, increasing the chance of survival. Diversity can be monitored through genomic testing, which assists in minimising inbreeding, identifying rare or unique traits, ensuring the introduction of new genetics, and supporting sustained genetic improvement.

XytoVet’s role in preserving the welfare of cattle

Xytovet is a leading provider of genotyping services for cattle and sheep in Australia, specialising in 50K genomic testing. We firmly believe in collaborating and empowering farmers with the insights gained from genetic data to ensure the health and vitality of cattle herds across Australia and New Zealand.

Enquire today to find out how we can help you maximise your livestock’s welfare and productivity.

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