Recent advances in genomic technologies, enabling the identification of superior animals early in life and without the need for performance testing offers breeders several new strategies to improve breeding outcomes.
For example, with the combined “single step” rating analysis, which combines progeny-test based Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) with genotyping results, breeders can now know with much higher levels of reliability and confidence, the breeding value of all their stock recorded female stock. This allows the selection of the very topmost cows for breeding earlier in their life cycle; likewise the selection of sires, earlier in the bulls life, also allows the use of the very latest breeding outcomes with much more confidence and reliability, and of course shortens the generation interval and speeds up the rate of genetic gain.
Traditionally sires have been the major source of breed improvement, and especially through the impact of artificial insemination and the covering many numbers of females. It is however now possible to exploit the few very highest quality females through the use of well proven “high yield” IVF, wherein up to 30 dairy and 60 beef offspring, and sometimes somewhat more, can be obtained in a single year. This lifts the standard offspring yield from 1 to up to 60 or more. Compared with AI/natural mating this is a 60-fold improvement in the contribution by the most elite females in the herd.
This technology offers producers and breeders several new approaches to improvement:
- For instance, a producer can decide to dramatically upgrade his herd by selecting his replacements only from offspring from the top 2-3% of his herd. This could be very attractive to a dairy farmer seeking to increase whole herd milk output.
- In the case of sire breeders, an increase in the yield of higher genomically rated young sires – from the top 5% of dams – will almost certainly, in these days of genomic ranking influencing sale price, deliver higher returns. And, the selection of top genomically rated heifers as dam replacements will uplift the whole herd and so lift both the herd’s genetic rating and also the yield of higher rated (female) stock for sale.
GeneFlow decided to take a new approach to provide an IVF service. This involved the following approaches:
- Offering a scale service, whereby IVF could be incorporated into a large scale breeding program.
- Providing a 28-day live calf guarantee within each purchasable unit of service.
- Arranging for finance to assist producers to invest in this technology and the service.