May 2, 2019

Geonomics

By John & Joan Maxwell
Cinnamon Ridge Farms

Recently, several people in my family have completed DNA ancestry tests. It’s been very fun learning about our genealogical DNA and what regions our ancestors came from. We have a similar test we use on every female and many male calves born at Cinnamon Ridge Dairy – it’s called a genomic test. Instead of using saliva, bovine genomic tests use tail hairs which we send to a laboratory for analysis.

Our farm has numerous uses for our animal’s genomic tests. At a basic level, the test can identify a calf’s parentage, which is especially helpful if two calves are born at the same time and we aren’t able to identify which calf goes with which cow. It also gives information on the breed of the calf if it isn’t 100 percent Jersey.

As we strive to improve the quality of our dairy herd with each generation of animals, the genomic test provides us valuable information about a calf’s genetic potential. Physical characteristics, like height, length, udder size and shape, and rib capacity are part of the test. Additionally, the test sheds light on a calf’s genetic potential for production, not only overall milk volume but butterfat and protein composition of the milk. It also can identify cows that have the A2/A2 beta casein in their milk, which studies have shown can be more compatible for lactose intolerant people. The genomic test even gives results for an animal’s fertility and offspring transmitability. We can use the information given in the genomic test to help us decide which animals we want to stay on the farm and become part of the milking herd, and which we choose to sell to other dairies.

Genomics also plays a big part in the artificial insemination industry. Before genomics, we would have to wait until the daughters of a bull had completed lactations to know exactly the quality of stud he was and whether we wanted our cows to be bred by him. Now, with genomic information, we are better able to know before daughters are milking what production levels to expect from his offspring. The sooner this vital information is available on a given bull, the sooner we can integrate his desirable genetic traits into our herd.

Having more information about our cows helps us care for them better. Our high-quality cows then can produce high-quality milk. We believe you will be able to taste the difference! You can purchase cheese made from our milk carefully and loving produced by these genomically tested cows at our farm store, Cinnamon Ridge Country Cupboard, located north of Donahue, as well as North Scott Foods, Iowa 80 Truckstop, and the Freight House Farmers Market.

Filed Under: Featured, Health & Wellness