Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Research and Development, R&D – always benefit the farmers

Genomic Selection, GS, Feed Efficiency, FE, and Male Fertility are core focus for VikingGenetics R&D. Cattle Breeding has undergone a revolution the past five to eight years with the introduction of GS. The result is a doubling of the genetic progress from two NTM units per year to four NTM units per year. Farmers in Fin-land, Sweden and Denmark have really understood the advantage of using young genomically selected bulls, a fantastic development and an important step for ensuring higher genetic progress and better profitability for the farmer. 

New challenges
The shift in cattle breeding caused by GS towards the use of young breeding candi-dates, challenges cattle breeding in new ways. We select the best young bulls and young bull dams on reliable genomic breeding values. We have to ensure the best semen quality and high semen production from young bulls at an age of 10 months. That is something new.

Higher reliabilities, the key issue
The big scoop in GS is to get sufficiently high reliabilities for Genomiclly Enhanced Breeding Values, GEBV, on a newborn calf. Next step in development of GS will be to get even higher reliabilities. 

More genotyped females
Adding females in the reference population has shown positive effects on reliability on calculated GEBV. Lowering prices on genomic tests in combination with higher reliabilities will make use of GS more efficient and grow benefits for farmers.

SNP marker information - more knowledge – increased reliabilities  
With more knowledge and the effect on single traits, it will add extra reliability on GEBV and provide us with more effective tools to ensure future genetic progress. Sequencing of the whole cattle genome has exactly the aim to give us basic knowledge in this field.  


Improvement of the statistic models
To make improvements of the used statistic models is also necessary to improve relia-bilities on GEBV. Extra reliability is important because it increases genetic progress for traits in NTM and the profitability for the farmer.

New Breeding Schemes
GS in combination with use of embryo techniques and sexed semen works in prac-tice. Cattle breeding moves towards more use of laboratory systems. Nevertheless, phenotypes from herds with high registration level will also in future be needed to get reliable genetic proofs.

Feed Efficiency, FE, need cutting edge technology
Feed intake covers approximately 70% of the costs on a dairy cow. Better FE reduces yearly cost per cow. Improvement in a cow’s efficiency can reduce the amount of needed feed and also reduce emission of Methane and NPK. 
Our aim is to publish genomic breeding values for FE within the next three years. VikingGenetics works together with partners to develop equipment for measuring individual feed intake in a commercial herd. An index including direct reg-istration of feed intake will have much higher reliability compared to an “Indirectly cal-culated index” based only on correlated traits like milk production and conformation traits.

Future Cattle Breeding
In the future, cattle breeding will be more accurate and efficient resulting in higher genetic progress. New genomic tools, sensor techniques, digitalization of registration and new equipment to do the measuring of new traits; Feed intake and cow behavior and performance are some developments that we can expect to come through the next 10 years.

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