Holstein Friesian NZ (HFNZ) is pleased to launch its Open Genomic Testing Service in conjunction with Weatherbys Scientific from Ireland.

This service in the first instance will be open to all members of Holstein Friesian NZ. Members will be able to genomically test any animal in their herd, free from restrictions, while at the same time receiving DNA parentage verification and a selected range of health tests on request.

Farmers testing animals through the HFNZ Open Genomic Testing service will receive and own all the information related to the tests that they have paid for. While this information will be stored by HFNZ, there will be no restrictions on the use of this data.

What is Genomic Testing?

Genomics are another tool to be used along with phenotypic data to help farmers identify animals in their herd that have the greatest genetic potential. Testing can identify and develop important traits such as longevity and fertility.

Genomic test results can be confidently used to make better breeding decisions to match breeding goals and improve the rate of genetic gain within individual herds.

Who are Weatherbys Scientific?

Weatherbys is a privately-owned family business, which has been operating successfully since 1770. As well as now providing world-class genotyping, their core business is responsible for UK Racing Administration, as well as continuing their role of registering all thoroughbred horses in Britain and Ireland within The General Stud Book. Weatherbys also manages a range of profitable commercial activities, which include race card production, traditional and digital bloodstock publishing, pedigree analysis, racing industry data services, and event ticketing.

In Ireland, Weatherbys Scientific runs a laboratory service which has provided a range of multi-species tests to an international client base over the last 30 years. More recently, Weatherbys Scientific has become a worldwide center of excellence in animal genotyping, especially in the ruminant sector and is currently conducting over 1 million cattle DNA tests as part of its expanding portfolio of work.

Weatherbys Scientific has achieved significant technical milestones – it is an institutional member of the scientific body of the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) and it is also accredited by the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR). The laboratory is also approved with Propel certification by Illumina, and has been selected as an Illumina Beta testing laboratory for new technologies. The Laboratory is ISO17025 accredited by INAB for Bovine and Ovine SN

Weatherbys Scientific is proud of its heritage and its reputation for customer service excellence. Today it has established ambitious growth plans and is undertaking investments in technology and its people to help drive expansion, efficiency and future profitability. 

What Genomic Breeding Values will I receive?

In New Zealand there is no one genomic platform currently available to farmers, therefore under this service the samples will be coordinated by HFNZ and sent to Weatherbys Scientific in Ireland for genotyping.  The raw genotypes are then sent to an evaluation centre of the farmers choice for reporting.

The options for reporting the data will be through:

  • DataGene, Australia – meaning the farmer will receive Australian genomic breeding values (ABV(g)s)
  • CDCB, USA – meaning the farmer will receive Net Merit Index and breeding values, or farmers can pay a minimal additional fee per animal and receive TPI(g).

Results will be supplied for each sample/animal submitted. Farmers will also be able to select a range of other tests that they require i.e. A2, polled etc. These test will be at an additional cost per animal.

On top of the genomic breeding values the farmer will receive DNA parentage verification for each animal submitted.* This DNA parentage verification data will then be submitted by Holstein Friesian NZ to LIC for inclusion on their database to confirm parentage and will show on the farmers Minda records.

*DNA parentage verification will only be possible if the sire and/or dam are profiled with DataGene or CDCB. Both evaluation centres currently have an extensive range of overseas sire profiles, but very limited NZ sire profiles.

How do I submit samples for Genomic Testing?

Farmers will collect and send their samples to the HFNZ office with the application form indicating their preferred evaluation centre and any additional tests requested. The samples will need to be either hair samples or wet tissues samples (tsu).

The 2022 dates for farmers to submit samples* for testing are:

  • 7th February 2022
  • 7th March 2022
  • 4th April 2022
  • 2nd May 2022
  • 3rd June 2022
  • 4th July 2022

*We must have a minimum of 15 samples for them to be sent for processing, or they will wait and be sent with the next round.

From the close off date for accepting samples, the farmer should see the results in approximately 8 weeks.

Farmers looking to genotype animals in their herd through the HFNZ Open Genomic Testing Service, will ideally be looking to do animals from an overseas background i.e. 2-3 generations of overseas breeding will provide more reliable results.

NZAEL are looking to build an independent reference population in New Zealand outside of LIC and CRV.  This reference population will include the info herds that NZAEL have genotyped through Weatherbys and they were looking to also include genotypes from overseas genetics used in NZ.  Based on this they approached Holstein Friesian NZ, as our genomic testing service uses Weatherbys, to see if they could access the genotype data of animals tested by members, to include the data in their reference population.  The aim is to have 100,000 independent genotypes included in the NZAEL reference population in the next 12 months and this will contribute to the work that Dorian Garrick is doing, to include genomic information in NZAEL 3.0 to be released in February 2021.  NZAEL are very keen to have genotype data from sources outside of LIC and CRV to ensure that the genomic information that flows into the indexes and breeding values is independent.

The Holstein Friesian NZ External Affairs Committee and Board decided to support this initiative and have agreed to provide the results from our genomic testing service to contribute to this industry approach.

What will it cost me to genomically test an animal?

DNA parentage verification in New Zealand on average costs a farmer around $37.00 per animal**.  HFNZ and Weatherbys Scientific have combined to offer NZ farmers a special pricing offer as follows.  All prices are inclusive of DNA parentage verification and exclusive of GST.

**Not including the LIC whole herd option.

 For a full price list see Service Fees.

Genomic Testing Awards

Click here to read more about the Genomic Testing Awards.