Already the largest herd mating programme used in the UK, GMS (Genetic Management System) has again seen a further growth of over 15% during the past year, with more than 325,000 UK cows processed through the programme between January and October 2008.

Owain Harries, UK GMS co-ordinator says, “Having reached record numbers last year, it is encouraging to see that farmers are continuing to support the programme now that they are seeing the results.”

The mating programme involves downloading the customer’s milk recording data which provide the genetic ancestry details of each individual cow, enabling the programme to offer the best matings for the cows. This mating is calculated by using a combination of the genetic information, milk and composite yield as well as health and fitness trait values.

GMS offers more inbreeding protection than any other mating programme available by going back over seven generations, on both the common male and female lines. It also protects for recessive genes, as the programme will not allow a mating if there is even a slight chance of a genetic disorder.

GMS has the ability to breed 30 different types of cows depending on the needs of the customer, through various combinations of conformation and production indexes. One of these indexes, the durability index, is the only one in the world to include health and fitness traits such as locomotion, daughter fertility and somatic cell counts as standard.

“As herd size increases, GMS is an essential management tool to protect against inbreeding, as well as helping customers to breed cows that are ideal for their particular production system,” concluded Mr Harries.