Igenity® — Longevity
How long do your cows last?
What is every extra month worth?
While there are many genetic and environmental factors involved in how long cows
last, two good indicators of longevity are productive life and dairy form. The impact
of these traits has been well documented. But selection efforts to improve longevity
have proven to be difficult because:
- Heritability of productive life is low1
- Productive life could not be reliably calculated, using traditional methods, until
late in an animals life2
- Selecting for lower dairy form has usually meant selecting for lower milk production
Economic Value of Productive Life
We are now learning that ignoring these traits can significantly decrease on-farm
The economic value of productive life for every 100 cows can be as much as $5,900
per additional month. Multiplied over the lifetime of a herd, the impact of additional
productive life months can be significant.
What the Dairy Cattle Industry says about Longevity
The average U.S. dairy cow lasts 2.8 lactations.
Currently, about 57% of cows make it past the second lactation. Any increase in this
percentage increases profits.
- Jagannatha, et al. University of Nebraska6
Herd life [productive life] has greatest value when feed costs are high or when beef
prices [cull cow price] are low.
- VanRaden, USDA and Klaaskate, University of Maryland7
Selection for productive life will not only increase the longevity of cattle, but
also has a positive influence on all other economically important traits for efficient
- Seykora, University of Minnesota
Igenity helps predict potential for longevity, earlier than ever before.
Because productive life is recorded so late in life, longevity potential is extremely
difficult to predict. Experts have long argued that genetic evaluation of productive
life should be supplemented with other information to improve reliability.
Igenity Profile provides analyses used to help predict Productive Life and Dairy Form
Intense selection for high milk production has meant an unintentional selection
for high dairy form, and an increase in metritis, ketosis, lameness, mastitis and
days open.1-7 The Igenity profile contains two analyses that can be
used to predict longevity — productive life and dairy form. So selecting for low
dairy form with the Igenity profile can help improve cow longevity. The Igenity
profile for productive life accounts for 8.3 months difference between cows with
an Igenity score of 10 verses cows with an Igenity score of 1.
||VanRaden, et al. 2006. JDS 89:3213-3220.
||VanRaden and Klaaskate. 1993. JDS 76:2758-2764.
||Dechow, et al. 2004. JDS 87:3526-3533.
||Rogers, et al. 1999. JDS 82:1331-1338.
||Lassen, et al. 2003. JDS 86:3730-3735.
||Jagannatha, et al. 1998. JDS 81:1702-1708.
||Tsuruta, et al. 2005. JDS 88:1156-1165.
||VanRaden and Multi-State ProjectS-1008. 2006.
http://www.USDA-AIPL.gov. Accessed September 22, 2006.
||Data on file at Neogen (Igenity statistical analysis for dairy form
and productive life performed at University of Missouri and University of Nebraska).
||Data on file at USDA-AIPL
||Weigel, et al. 1998. JDS 81:2040-2044.
||Dechow, et al. 2004. JDS 87:3534-3541.
||Hansen, et al. 2002. JDS 85:445-452.