News

Disease killer

By Dairy News

Farmers are facing mounting pressure economically to reduce costs, and socially to reduce antibiotic use.

Semex is offering a solution to help farmers crush disease.

Semex geneticist and business analyst Steve Larmer said despite all of the improvements made with dairy animal husbandry there continued to be poor health performance.

“When all else is equal, the thing that’s going to differ between two cows on your dairy is: How strong is their immune system? How able are they going to be to respond to that challenge? Because no matter how well-managed a dairy is, every cow is going to encounter both bacterial and viral pathogens almost every day.

“In 2012 we launched Immunity+ bulls, an industry first, dramatically changing the way dairymen developed breeding strategies and managed herd health.

“Easy to use, Immunity is highly heritable, with immune response being 30 per cent, well above other individual health traits.”

And the results confirmed this new breeding strategy, and a study of Semex sired animals from 35 commercial dairies in 2017 showed improvements in a number of areas on about 30 000 cows and 75 000 heifers tested.

The reductions were seen in eight health incidences, with the most significant being a 20 per cent reduction in mortality and 17 per cent reduction in persistent mastitis. The improvements in immune response would have resulted in $72 330 savings for herds milking 1000 cows during one lactation period.

“With the advent of genomic evaluations for immune response, we are now able to identify cows in the herd that resist disease through our Elevate™ female genomic testing platform.

“By looking at genomically tested cows, instead of simply using the sire status, we can see that those cows with a stronger immune system resist disease even better,” Dr Larmer said.

“These high immune response cows have 30 per cent less disease than their herd-mates, that are either average or low immune response. And, the only way to get more high immune response animals in your herd is to utilize Immunity+ sires. “