Species We DNA Test:

Genomic Opportunities for the NZ Deer Herd

Published on Monday, June 13th, 2016

For 20 years GenomNZ has been offering a 16 marker microsatellite DNA test for deer parentage analysis. However, this technology is now obsolete. Genomnz is pleased to be able to offer a new SNP based parentage test, containing tens of thousands of markers. The test will be released in 2017.

These are really exciting times for the industry. All progeny born after November 2016 will be genotyped using the new genotyping by sequencing method. We will now be able to offer precise genomic relationships, breed composition and level of inbreeding for every animal as well as parentage analysis for a price similar to the old microsatellite test. We liken it to moving from a Tiger Moth to a Boeing 747 overnight.

What does the new snp test offer?


  • High throughput reliable parentage testing
  • Breed composition
  • Genomic relationships
  • Level of inbreeding
  • More accurate Breeding Values

Medium term

  • Genomic breeding values
  • Lethal and desirable variants

Long term

  • Genomic tools developed specifically for accurate selection for robust, high yielding NZ deer

Sampling Method

Ear punches are now our preferred sampling method (Allflex TSU). This sample type has been shown to provide both higher quality DNA as well as potential on-farm benefits.

The TSUs and applicator can be bought directly from Allflex as a separate unit or (if you use Allflex tags) can be bought with the tag order allowing the TSU to be linked to the tag, and remove the need for any manual recording. Alternatively Genomnz is more than happy to sell them to you at the prices below:

TSU: $3.00 per sampler

Applicator: $110.00

Overseas clients will need to use a TSU with a preservative (wet TSU).


Where are we at?

Validation work has already been undertaken on 3 industry studs. Further work is required to complete the research reducing the cost of genotyping the hinds via imputation of the microsatellite genotypes in progeny.

What needs to be done now?

Collect a TSU (Allflex ear punch sampler) from all hinds and sires used in mating in 2016 that have only had a hair sample collected in the past. Send these samples to us so we can extract the DNA before the calves are received.

What will the cost be?

As with any upgrade or purchasing of a new car there will be a small cost. Perhaps the most important of these is shifting to TSU tissue samplers. Genomnz will make available a pricing structure soon where different options can be chosen. The cost of the new test will be similar to the cost of the current test.

Future Research Programme

At Invermay we are developing a research herd recording difficult to measure traits that are commercially important. We are concentrating our efforts on immune function and disease and parasite resistance in deer. The program is called Tomorrows Deer and the aim is to identify the best genetics for robust healthy deer that perform well. As part of this work we are using the new markers to scan the genome for genes with large effects on health and production in order to identify the best animals.

When enough data is collected Deer breeders will be able to access molecular breeding values for the same cost as parentage. This is a major step forward with the potential to accelerate genetic gain and increase performance. Genetics shouldn’t just be about production though, how well the animal fits into the farm system is equally as important. Our job at Invermay is to work with the farm systems team to breed an animal that is productive, healthy and fits into the modern deer farming environment.