U.S. Dairy Animal Identification and Data

Genetic evaluations start with animal identification standards and the collection of performance data for individual animals. Allied partners have developed an efficient pipeline and process in which accurate phenotypic information – individual cow performance – flows to the U.S. genetic evaluation center.

Animal Identification

Animal Identification is key to track animal movements, and it is essential for genetic evaluation. Individual animals are linked to performance data, family members and herds through their unique identification. Multiple identification systems are allowed under Federal regulations set by the USDA.

Most dairy cattle in the U.S. genetic evaluation system follow the Animal Identification Numbers assigned by the breed associations, Dairy Herd Improvement Associations, or identification devices approved by the International Committee of Animal Recording (ICAR).

Data Flow from Farm to Genetic Evaluation

The CDCB, or Council of Dairy Cattle Breeding, is the U.S. genetic evaluation center and manager of the national cooperator database – the world’s largest database devoted to the performance of dairy animals.

Three main categories of female performance data flow from U.S. dairy herds to the national cooperator database:

Lactation and management data is contributed by Dairy Record Providers (DRP), which are generally affiliated with Dairy Herd Information Associations (DHIA). Milk testing and collection of reproduction and health events are key services that the DHIAs provide. DRPs send this data to the Dairy Record Processing Centers (DRPC), which create standardized herd management reports for farm use and send the compiled data files to CDCB for genetic evaluations.

Conformation, or type, data is submitted to CDCB by the respective breed associations based on the type classifications conducted on farms.

Lastly, the female performance records must link to their sires. Animal information on bulls considered “active” for Artificial Insemination (AI) is supplied for cross reference by the National Association of Animal Breeders.

Dairy Record Providers

Dairy Records Providers (DRPs) are state or regional organizations owned by dairy producers that deliver dairy record management services to herds. DRPs gather cow performance data from farms and develop reports that support sound herd management decisions. They promote high accuracy, creditability, and uniformity of Dairy Herd Improvement records for genetic evaluations and management research.

Dairy Record Processing Centers

Dairy Records Processing Centers (DRPCs) are four organizations that write computer software to generate reports to manage dairy herd operations. DRPCs standardize and normalize the data coming from farms and transfer data to the CDCB cooperator database for research and genetic evaluations.

AgriTech Analytics

AgSource VAS


Dairy Records Management Systems

National Dairy Herd Information Association

The National Dairy Herd Information Association (NDHIA) is the umbrella association for the regional affiliates across the U.S. NDHIA sets data certification standards and secures uniform data collection procedures. NDHIA is a direct and united voice for the dairy information industry.

Genomic Data

For genomic selection, performance and pedigree data is factored with genotypes to calculate genomic predictions. Genomic data is submitted to CDCB through genomic testing in the U.S. and via international partnerships.