Genes Map Future for Victoria Dairy Industry

AUSTRALIA - Victoria Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers have unlocked the secrets of increasing the rate of genetic improvement in the dairy industry from the tails of 10,000 Holstein dairy cows.
calendar icon 18 June 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

During a visit to Maffra in Gippsland, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said mapping cows’ genetics presented an opportunity to build a quality herd rapidly, particularly for young farmers.

“Dairy producers can make dramatic improvements in performance by choosing elite young bulls based on their genomic test alone,” Mr Walsh said.

“The 10,000 cow project has resulted in significant improvements in the value of genomic tests. In all, 10,000 Holstein cows had their genome profiled in the project, making it one of the largest undertakings of its kind in world.”

The genetic sampling involved pulling tail hairs from cows on 91 dairy farms that had kept excellent cow performance records over many years. Research leader Ben Hayes said that later this year the results of a similar study for the Jersey breed were expected to provide similar levels of genomic reliability.

The project was funded by the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the Gardiner Foundation, and is a large-scale partnership between dairy farmers, pasture and cattle breeding companies, government and researchers.

The research will be delivered to all dairy farmers by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme, through their Good Bulls Guide. Mr Walsh said the research was complemented by the Coalition Government’s State Budget allocation of $61.4 million through the Growing Food and Fibre initiative.

“This initiative will provide $14.3 million to the dairy industry to develop technologies and management practices to boost productivity and profitability,” Mr Walsh said.

“It will also introduce new feeding systems to improve feed conversion, improve the water use efficiency of dairy production and develop ways to mitigate methane emissions.”

The dairy industry is one of Victoria’s largest export sectors, earning almost $2 billion dollars last year.

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