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Project: Genotype and Environment contributing to the sustainability of dairy cow production systems through the optimal integration of genomic selection and novel management protocols based on the development

2014-01-01 – 2018-12-31

Abstract

The requirement for sustainable food production is a global issue to which the EU contributes as a major livestock producer. It is critical to improve animal production efficiency while sustaining environmentally friendly milk production. More profitable dairy production requires increased milk yield, cow health, longevity and fertility; reduced environmental footprint and optimised use of inputs. These are multifactorial problems to achieve.

GplusE aims to identify the genotypes controlling biological variation in the important phenotypes of dairy cows, to appreciate how these are influenced by environmental and management factors and thus allow more informed and accurate use of genomic selection. GplusE will link new genomic data in dairy cows to a comprehensive array of phenotypic information going well beyond those existing traits recorded by dairy breeding organisations. It will develop systems that will focus herd and cow management on key time points in production that have a major influence on the rest of the productive cycle including efficiency, environment, physiological status, health, fertility and welfare. This will significantly advance the science, efficiency and management practices in dairy production well beyond the current state-of-the art. The major bioinformatics element of the proposal will illuminate the bovine genome and ensure a reverse flow of information to annotate human and other mammalian genomes; it will ensure training of animal scientists (PhDs & Postdocs) to a high skill level in the use of bioinformatics.

The end result of this project will be a comprehensive, integrated identification of genomic-phenotypic associations relevant to dairy production. This information will be translated into benefits for animal breeding and management that will considerably improve sustainable dairy production. It will provide basic biological information into the mechanisms by which genotype, environment and their interaction influence performance.