How to Purchase a Feed Efficiency Evaluation?

In April 2021, Canada became one of the leading countries in the world delivering genetic evaluations for Feed Efficiency in the Holstein breed. These evaluations are the result of an international collaboration whereby feed intake, body weight and production data is collected on individual cows, along with their DNA genotype. Given the significant cost of this data collection approach, there are only a handful of herds involved in each country, including three in Canada.

Feed costs represent a major proportion of all production costs affecting the profitability of dairy herds across the country. The new Feed Efficiency evaluations allow farmers to improve the efficiency and productivity of their herd by selecting animals that better convert the feed they consume into milk production. 

When Feed Efficiency was introduced in 2021, all sires owned by A.I. customers of Lactanet received an official genomic evaluation, which allows Canadian farmers to select sires for this trait in addition to LPI, Pro$ and other traits of importance to meet their breeding goals. On the female side, Lactanet automatically publishes the Feed Efficiency evaluation for all Holstein females that are part of the herd inventory for customers enrolled on its various milk recording services, including eDHI.

Effective the April 2022 genetic evaluation release, Feed Efficiency evaluations for all other Holstein heifers and cows that were born in Canada or are Canadian owned are available for purchase at a cost of $5 per animal. For females owned by a breeder prefix associated with a herd that routinely type classifies a credit of $1 per animal will automatically be applied at the time of purchase. A single purchase is required per animal for it to continually receive an official Feed Efficiency evaluation going forward.

If you’re not a Lactanet milk recording customer and you what to learn more about how purchase a Feed Efficiency genetic evaluation for a few or several animals, simply follow the steps below:

Steps to Purchasing Feed Efficiency Genetic Evaluations

1. Create a Profile

To purchase the Feed Efficiency evaluation, you will need to set up a user profile and account with “Lactanet Genetics”. This can be done by going to the Data Management Services area under the Genetics tab on the Lactanet.ca website, or by using the following direct link:

Clicking on the “Create a Profile” button will take you to a page to enter your personal contact information as well as any breeder prefix information and you will create the username and password for signing in when purchasing an evaluation.

2. Login

Once you’ve created your account, you will need to login whenever you want to proceed with purchasing a Feed Efficiency genetic evaluation. This can be done by signing in before you select animals or after you’ve gone through steps 3 and 4 below and then continuing with the purchase transaction.

3. Select Your Animals and Add to Your Cart

Selecting the Animal Query menu item under the Genetics section of the Lactanet website will provide you with the option to do an individual Animal Search or a Group Search. Whichever you choose, as you review genetic information for animals of interest, you may come across a heifer or cow of interest that does not have a Feed Efficiency evaluation available.

In fact, there are two ways to select females for purchasing a Feed Efficiency evaluation.

A) As you use the website search tools and open up the Genetic Evaluation Summary page of a heifer or cow, you may identify one that does not yet have Feed Efficiency information displayed in the section for Functional traits. For females that qualify for the purchase of an evaluation the option will be displayed as shown by the circled $ in the image below.

B) Alternatively, when you use the Animal or Group search tools to produce a list of females you will see Feed Efficiency (FE) evaluations displayed for some animals in the last column on the right. Again, for females qualifying for the purchase of their evaluation the circled $ will be displayed (see side bar).

Regardless of how you identify one or more females for which you wish to purchase their Feed Efficiency evaluation, simply click on the circled $ and that animal will be added to your shopping cart. If you wish to consider several animals carrying your breeder prefix, use the Animal Search tool to find females with a name starting by your prefix. From the resulting list, you can use various column headers to sort the animals and select any you wish to add to your cart.

Feed Efficiency evaluations are available at cost of $5 per animal. For females owned by a breeder prefix associated with a herd that routinely type classifies a credit of $1 per animal will automatically be applied at the time of purchase.

4. View Your Cart

The count of animals in your cart is displayed at the top of each page, embedded in the black banner area. When you have selected all the desired animals for the session, you can proceed to the payment step by clicking on the blue “View Cart” box or on the blue shopping cart image above the Feed Efficiency column.

5. Payment

Once you select an animal for purchasing a Feed Efficiency evaluation the circled $ becomes filled in blue (see side bar). After you make a successful payment transaction the $ inside the blue circle is replace by the letter “P” to indicate the fee has been “Paid”.

Accessing your shopping cart shows the details of the selected animals and the associated fee to be paid for each (see side bar with animal identification details hidden).

A garbage can icon is displayed at the end of each line, allowing you to remove the animal from your cart if desired.

For these animals, when the payment is completed before midnight on Sunday, the Feed Efficiency evaluation will be publicly available effective the next release, which is normally every Tuesday with some exceptions before a full official release.

6. Checkout and Make Payment

When you select the “Checkout” button after reviewing the animals in your cart, you will move to page for making the payment transaction. If you have not already signed in to your Lactanet Genetics account as outlined in step 2, you will be prompted to do so.

To complete your purchase of the Feed Efficiency evaluation for the animals in your cart, enter the required credit card information and the select the “Purchase” button.

When a successful payment has been processed, you will receive a confirmation email as well as the associated payment transaction code.

Remember, if your herd is enrolled on any of Lactanet’s milk recording services, the Feed Efficiency evaluation is freely available without the need to purchase.

In the event that you find a heifer or cow in your herd that does not have Feed Efficiency already available, please ensure that they have been included in your herd inventory at the time of your next test day.

Industry Benefit

Offering Feed Efficiency evaluations is one component of the portfolio of services that Lactanet will be offering to support the environmental sustainability of the dairy sector. It is therefore important to measure, monitor and genetically select for improved feed efficiency in dairy herds across Canada. While customers enrolled on milk recording services benefit from having Feed Efficiency genetic evaluations freely available to them, this new purchase option available for other Holstein females in Canada allows all Canadian herd owners to benefit from this novel tool.

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By Brian Van Doormaal
Brian has dedicated his professional career of nearly 35 years involved in the genetic improvement of dairy cattle in Canada. He is well-known for his numerous extension articles and public speaking engagements in both official languages.

Lactanet automatically publishes the Feed Efficiency evaluation for all Holstein females that are part of the herd inventory for customers enrolled on its various milk recording services.