More reliable Australian breeding values = faster genetic gain

New era dawns in dairy genomics

The Australian dairy industry has entered a new genomic era in which dairy farmers are now able to make breeding decisions with confidence on genomic data alone. 

After two years of intensive research work at the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), genomic profiling of 10,000 dairy cattle has achieved levels of reliability that make much more accurate predictions of how good a bull’s or a heifer’s genetics are for milk production, fertility and other traits that affect profitability.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh, Dairy Futures CRC CEO, David Nation and farm host and genome project participants, Iain and Louise Stewart celebrate the major milestone in genomic reliabilities at Maffra.


On average the reliability of genomic breeding values for young bulls (with no daughters) is now equivalent to a bull proof with 30 milking daughters. The potential economic value of this new technology is estimated at $100 million over the next 12 years.

Milestone celebrated

On 14 June the Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, the Hon. Peter Walsh, joined dairy farmers, scientists and industry leaders on-farm at Maffra to celebrate this major milestone.  Read more about the celebrations here... 

Market impact

The industry sets minimum publishable criteria for Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) from which dairy farmers make regular bull selection decisions. The market impact of this new information will be the breeding decisions made from among the top 50 genomic bulls (see table).

The changes in reliability for the top 50 genomic bulls shows just how quickly the reliability of genomic breeding values is catching up with traditional measurements.

The results of the 10,000 Holstein cow genomes project have brought several of the most economically important traits up to or above the minimum publishable criteria. These traits include genomic reliability for production (63.9%), survival (43.2%) and mastitis resistance (54.8%).


Table. Reliability analysis of the top 50 Holstein genomic bulls in the Good Bulls Guide

April 2011
April 2012
Minimum publishable criteria

Production  traits




 63% reliability, daughters in 15 Australian herds






Mastitis resistance




50% reliability, daughters in 15 Australian herds

Workability traits




57% reliability, daughters in 10 Australian herds

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