Meeting focuses on breeding high quality cattle

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Improving the genetic potential of your herd will be the focus of the next meeting of Scotland’s Strategic Dairy Farm on 25 April.

Karen Lowe, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “High quality cattle are at the heart of profitable dairy farming and good breeding decisions that suit your system are critical to herd improvement.

“Good quality genetics is key to this because, no matter how good your management is, there will be a ceiling to your herd’s performance and profitability without it.”

Using genomics to improve your herd

At the meeting, host farmer William Baillie will share his approach to making the best breeding choices and selections for his herd, which has allowed him to grow his pedigree Holstein herd from 50 to 310 with a top 15 per cent genetic merit ranking.

William has recently had his young stock genomics tested and will share his thoughts on using that information to guide his future breeding decisions.

He said: “It’ll be really interesting to compare the genomic results to the predictions we’ve always used in the past as these should be much more accurate, meaning we’ll be able to make better decisions about which animals we breed from.”

As the farm is part of AHDB’s optimal dairy systems programme, at the event we will also review how Hillhead compares to our key performance indicators (KPIs) for AYR calving herds.

Tools and breeding indexes

AHDB Genetics specialists, Marco Winters and Fern Pearston, will also be at the meeting to share their expertise on making best use of the tools and breeding indexes available from AHDB, such as the herd genetic reports.

Colin Penny from Zoetis will describe the practical process involved in heifer genomic testing and how farmers can use the results to help plan heifer inventory and breeding decisions.

Strategic farms and optimal systems

AHDB's strategic dairy farms help farmers learn from each other through regular on-farm meetings, where key performance data and what the top performing farmers are doing is shared.

They form part of the Optimal Dairy Systems programme, which aims to help dairy farmers lower costs and increase efficiency by focusing on either a block or all year round calving system.

Event details

The event will begin at the Tinto Hotel, 44 Biggar Road, Symington, Lanarkshire, ML12 6FT, moving to the farm after lunch.

Anyone wanting to attend should book by contacting the AHDB KE Events Hub on 01904 771216 or For more information please contact Karen Lowe on 07759 586 321.