Australia’s genetic gain in sires used to produce the next generation of Holstein cows has increased from $6 per year after the first Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) were released to $30 per year 40 years later. 

And there’s plenty more for dairy farmers to get excited about with researchers working hard to develop Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) for methane emissions, cow health and calf vitality.

Matthew Shaffer presenting
Dr Matt Shaffer, DataGene CEO reported that
the Australian dairy industry had gone from
lagging markedly behind international
average rates of genetic gains to now
exceeding the international average, at a
function to celebrate 40 years of Australian
Breeding values.

That was the message from Bendigo, Victoria this week where the Australian herd improvement industry celebrated 40 years of ABVs.

DataGene Chief Executive Officer, Dr Matthew Shaffer told the gathering of farmers, researchers, and service providers that since 2016 Australian genetic gain has exceeded the international average.

“Twenty years ago, the average genetic gain for Australian Holsteins was 4 per cent per year, which was half the international average. Today it’s 28 per cent, well above average worldwide. This is an impressive achievement and a testament to the hard work and dedication for our entire dairy industry,” Matt said.

He also acknowledged the contribution made by the Ginfo program over the past 10 years.

“Data has been central to Australia’s genetic development and the Ginfo farmers – submitting all their herd information – have been central to making this happen.”

Ginfo is a program which now includes 157 dairy farms and 60,000 cows that submit extensive herd data – including genomic test results – to make-up Australia’s reference population.

Data from these animals contribute to the development of Australian Breeding Values (ABVs) and breeding indexes.

Within the past 10 years – and thanks to the Ginfo data – the Australian dairy industry has had new ABVs for Mastitis Resistance, Heat Tolerance, Gestation Length, Feed Saved, Type composites and an updated Fertility ABV.

The industry also has an index that allows dairy farmers to breed to reduce the emissions intensity on their farms, called the Sustainability Index, as well as the Balanced Performance Index and Health Weighted Index.

Ginfo has also contributed to significant improvements in the reliability of these ABVs and indices, giving farmers more confidence in using them to make breeding and selection decisions. For example the reliability of the Daughter Fertility ABV bulls has increased 23 percentage points for Holsteins (and 21 for Jerseys) and 28 percentage points in Holstein cows (and 26 for Jersey cows).

Dr Shaffer thanked everyone in the audience for their personal contribution to these outstanding achievements.

“This could only be achieved by genuine collaboration across the entire herd improvement industry. You all played a role and it is exciting to see how much has been achieved,” he said.

The celebratory dinner was held in conjunction with the Herd ’23 conference – a collaboration between DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia and National Herd Improvement Association of Australia

For more information contact: DataGene 1800 841 848 or or

DataGene is an initiative of Dairy Australia and the herd improvement industry.