Review of dairy breeding objectives for Australia

AbacusBio Breeder Winter 2014, 5

* The Australian Diary Herd Improvements Scheme (ADHIS) is reviewing the National Breeding Objective (NBO) in Australia’s dairy industry and in doing so, is working with AbacusBio consultants Bruno Santos, Daniel Martin-Collado, Tim Byrne and Peter Amer to determine the best path for future progress.

ADHIS is charged with maintaining the national database of performance and pedigree records, and providing genetic evaluation and extension services (amongst other things) for the Australian diary industry. They are looking for guidance from dairy farmers on what makes a functional and profitable cow, suited for Australian production systems. The NBO underpins the selection indexes used to rank bulls and cows for breeding.

In Australia, the selection index that helps farmers to make their decisions is the Australian Profit Ranking (APR). AbacusBio consultants are working with ADHIS to gather views and priorities of dairy farmers. During March and April, farmers from around Australia completed a 1000minds® survey that asked them how they select bulls, feed their cows and what traits they regard as important.

Michelle Axford, of ADHIS, said that “understanding what traits farmers see as important for dairy cow performance, efficiency and profitability will help guide further economic analysis and selection index development work”.

Dairy farms in Australia have diverse feeding systems and calving patterns, due in part to the variable climate within the states where dairy cows are farmed. Michelle said that “establishing whether there are differences in trait improvement priorities for different feeding and calving systems, is one of the key outcomes of the survey”. Thirteen traits were included in the survey, including production, health and type traits.

As well as analyzing the survey data, AbacusBio will be working with ADHIS and Australian geneticists on economic analyzes, to calculate economic values in the NBO. The outcome of this work will be that the NBO and final formulation of the associated selection index will rank cows and bulls to reflect the priorities of Australian dairy farmers. Ultimately, breeding objectives and indexes set the direction of genetic improvement for the industry. The formulation of the APR will lead to more informed decisions and increased profitability for Australian dairy farmers in the future.

* Reproduced from the article.

See also

Breeding articles