ClosedAgriculture & Agri-food

Increasing feed efficiency and reducing methane emissions through genomics: A new promising goal for the Canadian dairy industry

PROJECT LEAD(S)/CO-LEAD(S) Flavio Schenkel (University of Guelph) & Paul Stothard (University of Alberta)
COMPETITION/ FUNDING OPPORTUNITY Genome Canada - 2014 Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition
PROJECT START DATE October 1, 2015
PROJECT END DATE December 31, 2020

The Canadian industry stands to gain $100M annually by improving two key traits in cattle: 1) feed conversion (feed efficiency) toward increased milk production, and 2) reduced methane emission. This project offers the means for effective selection of advantageous feed efficiency and reduced methane emission traits for a more secure and sustainable supply of competitive Canadian dairy products. Using genomics-based approaches to define natural variation between animals, cattle will be selected for higher feed efficiency and lower methane emissions. Canadian dairy producers will have access to bulls whose daughters are more efficient at converting feed into milk and have lower greenhouse gas emissions with the same level of production. As feed is currently the largest expense in milk production, improving cow efficiency will substantially benefit industry members financially. More efficient animals also produce less manure waste, further contributing to a decreased environmental footprint for industry. Industry breeding strategies can then incorporate these two traits in developing optimal populations, even for young animals without phenotypes.

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