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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

Genetic improvement of feed efficiency of Norwegian Red cows

Alternative title: Avl for bedre fôreffektivitet for NRF

Awarded: NOK 5.1 mill.

Project Number:

321455

Application Type:

Project Period:

2021 - 2025

Organisation:

Location:

The overall aim is to develop tools for selection of improved feed efficiency in Norwegian Red dairy cows. This will result in a more efficient production of milk and beef, better utilization of resources and reduced environmental impact, while maintaining a sustainable dairy production. Feed efficiency in dairy production can be improved genetically. However, direct recording of individual roughage feed intake in dairy cattle is challenging and costly. In this project we will therefore explore alternative methods. We aim to identify indirect measures that can be used to predict feed efficiency in dairy cattle large scale. A novel method based on content of stable isotopes in feed and milk will be tested and further developed for dairy cattle. Another option we will explore is to predict individual feed efficiency based on data available from automatic milking systems and relevant additional sensors (e.g. measures of activity, rumination, body condition). Before indirect measures and predictions can be considered used in the breeding program, knowledge of the association between direct and indirect measures is crucial. Equipment for measures of direct feed intake will therefore be installed in collaborating herds, and data from these herds will be used to develop and validate prediction equations. Breeding for improved feed efficiency can make Norwegian dairy production more sustainable. The effect of selection for feed efficiency will be modeled by life cycle assessment.

Feed efficiency in dairy production can be improved by genetic selection. The direct trait requires recording of individual roughage feed intake, which in dairy cattle is challenging and costly. Alternative methods for measuring feed efficiency is therefore of interest. We aim to identify indirect measures that can be used to predict feed efficiency in dairy cattle large scale. We will test whether a novel method based on content of stable isotopes in feed and milk can be used to quantify phenotypic differences in individual feed conversion rates in dairy cows. A proof of concept study at a research herd will be followed by test of the method in a commercial herd. Another option we will explore is to predict individual feed efficiency based on data available from automatic milking systems (AMS) and additional sensors (e.g. rumination, activity). Before indirect measures and predictions can be considered used in the breeding program, we need to estimate genetic parameters and validate reliability of genomic breeding values. Knowledge of the association between direct and indirect measures is crucial, and measures of the direct trait on a sufficient number of cows are needed to develop and validate prediction equations. For this purpose, Geno is establishing recording of direct feed intake in collaborating herds and direct feed intake on 1,000 Norwegian Red (NR) cows will be available for the project. All cows will be genotyped. This together with data from AMS, relevant sensors, and the national herd recording system will be used to estimate genetic parameters for direct and indirect feed efficiency, derive and validate prediction equations, and estimate genetic correlations between feed efficiency and other important traits in the NR breeding goal. The effect of selection for feed efficiency will be modelled by life cycle assessment This project will deliver the knowledge needed for making decisions on how feed efficiency best can be included in the NR breeding goal

Activity:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri