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Genetic parameters for feed intake and body weight in dairy cattle using high throughput 3D cameras in Danish commercial farms

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Recording difficult phenotypes on a large scale is becoming possible with the incorporation of recently developed new technologies. One of these new technologies is the use of 3D cameras on commercial farms to measure feed intake and body weight (BW) daily. Residual feed intake (RFI) has been proposed as a proxy for feed efficiency in several species, including cattle, pigs, and poultry. Dry matter intake (DMI) and BW records are required to calculate the RFI, and the use of this new technology will help increase the number of individual records more easily and efficiently. In this study, we estimated the genetic parameters, including genetic correlations between DMI and BW, obtained by 3D cameras from 6,000 Danish Holstein, Jersey, and Nordic Red cows from commercial farms. Weekly records of DMI and BW were recorded between 2019 and 2022 on 17 commercial farms. Estimated heritability for DMI ranged from 0.17 to 0.25, whereas for BW they ranged from 0.44 to 0.58. The genetic correlations between DMI and BW were moderately positive (0.58–0.65). Based on these results, we conclude that DMI and BW phenotypes measured by 3D cameras are heritable for the three dairy breeds and comparable to those obtained by traditional methods (scales and feed bins). In conclusion, 3D camera technology has the potential to become a valuable tool for automatic and continuous recording of feed intake and body weight on commercial farms. Furthermore, the availability of feed intake and weight records in real-time opens a new window of opportunities for the processing of data, which could help the farmer to make early decisions, and it could contribute to the improvement of existing phenotypes and the development of new phenotypes and proxies.
TidsskriftJournal of Dairy Science
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 23 aug. 2023

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