Recording Parentage


2 min read

Parent records Recording births Verifying parents through DNA Accurate heat detection

Effective cow data recording and performance measurement on your farm can make the difference in breeding decisions. This page explores the importance of maintaining accurate parent records, confirming parentage through DNA, and observing heat detection during mating. All these processes contribute to genetic gain across the national herd and improve your herd’s Breeding Worth (BW) and Production Worth (PW) indices. Poor record-keeping could lead to financial loss. Accurate data allows you to fully utilise your herd’s potential and make informed choices on which animals to cull or keep.

Recording parentage, and measuring cow performance on-farm enables farmers to make informed decisions about which cows to breed from and which to cull.

Cow data contributes significantly to the rate of genetic gain across the national herd. The information feeds into the Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD) improving the accuracy of Breeding Worth (BW) and Production Worth (PW) indices.

Calving and Mating provide opportunities to improve ancestry of the herd and direct parentage lines of calves.

The impact of incorrect data is that farmers are missing out on money in their own back pocket as the full potential of their herd’s value isn’t being met. There is also a financial impact when choosing to cull or keep replacements from the wrong animals because of poor record keeping.

Create a strong foundation with parent records


Recording births and matching cows to calves

  • Record the date, cow (dam) tag number, calf sex, calf ID and whether or not the cow required calving assistance.
  • Take care matching cows to calves. If in doubt, checking the breeding information can help; is the cow due? When was the mating date? Does the breed match the bull/sire?
  • Have a system in place to temporarily ID calves in the paddock, so that you can put proper tags in at the calf shed where it is clean and dry.

Verifying parents through DNA

DNA sire verification is a useful tool that can confirm the fathers of your heifer replacement calves.

  • Use DNA sire verification across your entire mob of replacement heifers, or on a strategic basis where parentage is uncertain.
  • A simple ear punch provides enough DNA to complete the test.
  • The mothers of your heifers can also be confirmed using DNA verification, but this involves an initial investment to obtain a DNA profile for each cow in the herd.
  • DNA sire verification costs around $30 per animal.

Accurate heat detection during mating

Typically mating data provided through AI companies on farmers behalf is accurate. When it comes to natural or DIY mating records, however there is room for improvement.

Accurate Heat detection is important because when cows are mating a few days apart, it is difficult to determine which mating was successful, and leads to inaccuracies in parentage and knowing exactly which calves to keep as replacements.

For natural or DIY mating approaches, farmers can record their data in apps such as MINDA or MyHerd.

Learn more about heat detection

Last updated: Feb 2024
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