Animal database


3 min read

The DIGAD project Background of DIGAD Legal docs Data DIGAD contains Confidentiality Access data How to request data Supplying data Contact details

The Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD) is a database that holds data for every recorded dairy cow in New Zealand. The DIGAD project is involved in building a database, animal evaluation models, and developing systems for certified herd testing providers to submit data. Access to the data held in DIGAD can be requested through DairyNZ, and data standards are in place to maintain the quality of data.

The DIGAD project

The Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD) holds pedigree and performance data for every recorded dairy cow in NZ.

This database contains all the data required to operate Animal Evaluation (AE) and was established within DairyNZ on the 1 December 2014.

The key outcome of this project will be to transition the operation and maintenance of NZ’s dairy cattle animal evaluation system from LIC’s Animal Evaluation Unit to NZAEL, a wholly owned subsidiary of DairyNZ.

Achieving ongoing genetic gain has been a cornerstone of the New Zealand dairy farmers’ competitiveness. It has been estimated that genetic improvement of dairy cattle contributes $300 million in profit, to the economy per annum. The DIGAD (Dairy Industry Good Animal Database) project is designed to help lift that contribution even further.

The DIGAD work is one of the most substantial database projects undertaken since herd records were first computerised (in the mid-1980s). It was initiated following recommendations in the Anderson Report in 2008, which provided a review of the New Zealand herd improvement industry.

The project has allowed us to identify a better method of processing fertility and body condition score data, which increases the accuracy of the corresponding breeding values (these benefits were realised in 2016).

Industry collaboration is significantly contributing to the seamless transition of a dairy farmer’s perspective, given the complexity of the data and systems involved.

This project involves a number of phases:

  • Phase 1: Build the database (DIGAD)
  • Phase 2: Transitioning the operation of the animal evaluation models (AE Transition)
  • Phase 3 and 4: Develop systems which facilitate certified herd testing providers submitting data directly to DIGAD. Design and implement a solution for breed societies.

Background of DIGAD

In 2008, DairyNZ established a committee headed by Professor Robert Anderson, to undertake a comprehensive review of the New Zealand dairy industry’s animal database.

The Committee sought and considered submissions from a range of organisations and individuals, and released a range of recommendations in a report titled the New Zealand Dairy Herd Improvement Database Review.

Two recommendations in this report were to transfer the Core Database and the animal evaluation function from LIC to an industry good body.

In August 2013, DairyNZ and LIC signed a formal agreement setting out the terms of the transfer of the Core Database and the licensing of the Animal Evaluation Intellectual Property to enable DairyNZ to operate and develop the New Zealand Animal Evaluation system.

What data does DIGAD contain?

DIGAD contains both core and non-core data, and there are separate regulations or conditions which control the use and distribution of each data set.

The core data comprises of 46 fields of raw data prescribed in the dairy industry (Herd Testing and New Zealand Dairy Core Database) Amendment Regulations 2014. The data is generated through herd recording (calvings/matings etc.) and herd measurement (herd testing, herd weighing). Data is initially collected by herd recording providers, who then pass it on to the DIGAD. There are regulations which restrict the use of core data, click here for further details set out in the regulations 2014.

Non-core data is also supplied by herd recording providers and includes information about body condition score, and traits other than production (such as udder support and cow temperament) which are collected and assessed by Participating Breed Society inspectors. The distribution of this data is governed through an agreement with the supplier and there are conditions around data use. Anyone requiring access to this data should discuss their requirements with the DIGAD Administrator.

The primary use of core and non-core data is to calculate the Breeding Worth of animals through the animal evaluation function. This function is currently performed by LIC on behalf of DairyNZ.

Core data is available through DairyNZ for industry good purposes, and access is granted through the core data access panel.


DairyNZ as the custodian of the core database is governed by the Dairy Industry (Herd Testing and New Zealand Dairy Core Database) Regulations 2001.

Regulation 25 (Confidentiality) requires DairyNZ to keep confidential:

  • Information contained in an application to the Panel in relation to the supply of data in the core database
  • The fact that an application has been made.
  • The fact that any data in the core database has been made available as a result of an application.

Requests and subsequent data access is confidential. Details of the applicant, the intended use of data and the scope of data provided will not be disclosed outside DairyNZ or the access panel.

Access Data

Access to data held in the DIGAD can be formally requested through DairyNZ.

The governance process for accessing data ensures industry good data is protected from misuse and inappropriate distribution. All requests and data provisioning (including the intended use) will be tracked and monitored.

Requests and subsequent data access is confidential. Details of the applicant, the intended use of data and the scope of data provided will not be disclosed outside DairyNZ or the Access Panel.

How to request data

1. Complete the form below: The database administrator will discuss the following:

  1. What data fields are required and the scope of data required e.g. current season, last five years, production data, or summarised data.
  2. Intended use of the data.
  3. Data requirements from other sources, e.g. Some required data fields may not be held in DIGAD but could be available directly from Herd Recorders (LIC or CRV).

DIGAD Enquiries

To make an inquiry regarding data access, please complete the form below.

Enter your details

If you prefer to send your inquiry by fax or post, please download and complete this form.

DIGAD Inquiry Form

Requested data output 

  1. Cost estimate provided: In estimate for providing the required data will be calculated, including fees and extract costs.
  2. Initial quote accepted: If the applicant decides to continue with their request, an access panel application form is completed and submitted to the access panel.
  3. Access panel review: The access panel will review the data requirements, applicant and the intended use of the requested data. If approved, the access panel may create specific terms and conditions that the applicant must agree to, prior to receiving the data.
  4. Invoice supplied: DairyNZ will generate an invoice for the cost of data provision and this invoice must be paid before the data is extracted.
  5. Data Supplied: The data will be extracted and provided in a secure manner e.g. encrypted data transfer.

Data standards are put in place to help maintain and enhance the quality of animal data entering DIGAD as this data is used for research and animal evaluation purposes.


All data requests are reviewed by the Access Panel, and the success of the application depends on the intended use of the data. Data will be supplied to applicants if it is determined to be for the benefit of the dairy industry.

The table below summarises the costs associated with data requests:

Description Cost
Application fee (payable to Core Database Panel) $179.31 per request ($200 including GST)
Administration fee $500 per request 
Base programming fee $600 per approved data extract
Additional programming fee $150 per hour (or part thereof)
Extract fee $0.33 per animal per season of Core Data
Maximum cost per extract $80,000
Additional extracts fee $500 per extract and $0.03 per animal

Supplying data to DIGAD

Herd test standard key points

Herd testing is available to all dairy farmers, providing the herd test standard can be met.

Key points covered by the Standard released in July 2015:

  1. Equipment used for herd testing must be approved by ICAR - International Committee for Animal Recording or historically approved via the dairy industry regulations(Herd Testing and New Zealand Dairy Core Database).
  2. Only data from a Certified Herd Tester enters DIGAD for use for research or animal evaluation purposes.
  3. Milk volume and milk component testing e.g. fat and protein percentages and somatic cell counts must be undertaken by an approved Certified Herd Tester. Note: There are currently two certified herd testers in NZ - LIC and CRV Ambreed.
  4. The protocols for herd testing and agreed formats for submitting data are specified in the Standard and all certified herd testers must follow these when herd testing and submitting data to DIGAD.
  5. A certified herd tester can use both traditional milk meters and permanently installed measurement equipment that meets accuracy requirements specified in the Standard.
  6. Milk component testing can be integrated with volume data collected by permanently installed measurement equipment.
  7. A range of herd testing options are available to suit different farming systems include once a day milking, 16 hourly milking, AM only, PM only, AM/PM and distributed milking systems.

To find out how herd testing can be carried out in your herd, please contact your preferred certified herd tester.

Name  Contact Details  Certified by Date certified 
CRV AmBreed New Zealand Ltd www.crv4all.co.nz
Ph: 0800 262 733
Telarc SAI Ltd 11 March 2011
Livestock Improvement Corporation www.lic.co.nz
Ph: 0800 264 632
Telarc SAI Ltd 28 November 2013


To become a Certified Herd Tester, contact the certification body listed below:

Telarc SAI Ltd: www.telarc.co.nz
Email: info@telarc.co.nz
Ph: 0800 004 004

Additional information on herd testing

A full version of the Herd Test Standard may be purchased on-line from the Standards New Zealand website: (Keyword: NZS 8100:2015)

The following supplementary information is available free of charge:

  • Supplement A: Dairy herd testing equipment approval procedures and production data standards.
  • Supplement C: Herd testing procedures for milking herds.
  • Supplement E: Examples of the herd test period, herd test, herd, herd test sample, and herd test sample milking.

Contemporary groups for the animal evaluation system

A contemporary group is a group of animals within a herd who are the same age, and who calved in the same season (i.e. Spring calving).

All lactating cows in a contemporary group must be tested on the same day, with the exception of cows that are not fit for testing (sick/injured). More info available.

Last updated: Feb 2024
Tags related to “Animal database”

Related content

Breeding Worth


24 min read

Breeding Values


5 min read

Economic Values


4 min read



2 min read



3 min read