Genomic Selection Has Changed Dairy Sire Selection


Take Home Messages

  • Use of genomic markers has reduced the generation interval, defined as the average age of parents when their offspring are born.
  • The generation interval of sires of bulls has decreased from approximately 7 to 2.5 years, while dams of bulls has decreased from 4 to 2.5 years.
  • Genomic selection has increased the rate of improvement in economically important traits such as daughter pregnancy rate, productive life, and somatic cell score.
  • Progeny-tested sires remain in demand and continue

Genomics and Reproductive Performance

Curious Jersey Cows

Where We Are Coming From: The Problem

For decades dairy production systems have faced the challenge of attaining adequate fertility levels. Insufficient reproductive performance will result on reductions on the proportion of cows at their peak production period, increments in insemination costs, and delayed genetic progress. Moreover, impaired fertility is one of the most frequent reasons for culling and increased days open are associated with a greater risk of death or culling in the subsequent lactation.

An historical trend for …

The Big Picture: Genomics, Humans, and Animals

Various breeds of cattle

Take Home Messages

  • The completion of the Human Genome Project, along with DNA sequencing of numerous other species has facilitated a flurry of genomic research.
  • Scientists are currently investigating how SNPs are associated with disease in humans and animals, along with production traits and fertility in livestock.
  • Genomic testing has been embraced by people to study their own health traits and ancestry, and to select for cattle that best fit the herd management strategy.

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Novel Reproductive Traits for Genomic Selection

Holstein Cows

Fertility is a key component of modern dairy production systems. However, a trend for declining dairy fertility has been evident in diverse production systems. Although fertility traits are strongly influenced by the environment, there is evidence for genotypic variation providing opportunity for selection. There are current efforts placed in collection of high numbers of accurate novel fertility phenotypes associated with the corresponding genotypes. Large scale evaluations are testing potential associations between direct measures of fertility and genomic variation on dairy …

Making Sense of Treatment Technology Options for Livestock Farms

Have you ever wondered whether manure should be treated on your livestock operation? What technology will work best in your situation? This webinar discusses strategies for selecting the right technology to meet your farm’s needs and reviews some proven and emerging technologies that are showing promise for the dairy industry. This presentation was originally broadcast on February 16, 2018. More…

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Dairy Calf and Heifer Management Videos


This article is part of our series of original articles on emerging featured topics. Please check here to see other articles in this series.

Heifers are the future of your dairy operation, and require a significant amount of attention and decision-making. Will you raise your own heifers or contract them out? How will you manage nutrition, breeding, health, and even mastitis control? In this selection of DAIReXNET videos, you’ll find information on a range of calf and heifer topics, including …

Exploring the Best Combinations of Genomics, Semen Type, and Culling in Dairy Cattle

dairy calves

This article is part of our series of original articles on emerging featured topics. Please check here to see other articles in this series.


Commercially affordable sexed semen (since 2006) and genomic testing (since 2009) have added to the options that dairy farmers should consider when looking to increase profitability. These technologies, combined with good overall management, and older technologies such as embryo transfer or beef semen, lead to an expanded number of choices regarding genetic selection, breeding and …