Dairy Wellness Profit: A New Genomic Index From The USA

An animal’s health has the greatest single influence on lifetime profitability. With advances in genomic technology, it is now possible to select for heifers that are going to, on average, be healthier than heifers that have not been selected.

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On average, it costs £1918 to raise a heifer to calving and not all heifers recoup their rearing costs

Dairy Wellness ProfitTM (DWP) is a new genomic index that incorporates health and wellness traits in addition to production traits.

What Is DWP?

DWP incorporates 6 adult cow health traits (ketosis, displaced abomasum, retained placenta, metritis, mastitis and lameness) and 3 calf health traits (mortality, scours and respiratory disease). These conditions were chosen because they are the most common and most financially significant diseases on a dairy unit. DWP is a financial index based on the actual cost of these diseases. For each individual trait, the midpoint for DWP is around 100; higher numbers equate to a lower risk of disease. The normal range is around 80–120.

DWP Study

A demonstration study illustrating the effectiveness of wellness trait predictions in 11 commercial Holstein herds was conducted in a population of 2,875 female US Holsteins, which were sampled prior to calving. Cows in the top 25% of the herds for the genetic predictions for each trait were, on average, over twice as likely to stay healthy. A complimentary study has also been conducted in the UK to document the effectiveness of the wellness traits on UK farms. This was a retrospective study involving multiple sites, years, seasons and animals with completed performance records available, with up to 728 animals being included in individual wellness trait analysis. The UK trial showed very similar results to the US study which means that we can be confident that DWP will also work in the UK.

On UK farms the difference between the top third and the bottom third:

DWP is exclusive to CLARIFIDE® Plus genomic testing, which is available from Scarsdale Vets.

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