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Crossbreeding - optimisation across dairy breeds

Project: Research

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The objective of this study is to improve the competitiveness of Danish dairy producers and the utilisation of resources in the dairy sector by utilising the full potential of crossbreeding between dairy breeds. Crossbreeding is used systematically for other livestock species like pig and poultry to obtain the benefit of heterosis, but is not used much in dairy cattle because tools for decision support are missing. The results of the project are dairy cows with improved health, fertility, and longevity. This leads to app. 200 mill. DKK per year in further economic effects at the dairy producers, reduced feed consumption per unit of product, and reduced CO2 emission per unit of product. Furthermore, genetic diversity within the breeds will increase. To achieve the objective, we will develop and implement decision support tools in the form of 1) predicted genetic merits for crossbred cows based on genomic information, 2) new modules for the simulation program SimHerd to support the decisions each dairy producer has to make for his herd regarding crossbreeding, and 3) new modules for the insemination plan programme, so it can maximise heterosis in each mating by means of genomic information. In addition, this project, as a first ever, will build a basis for decision making for designing pure breeding lines of dairy cattle that are selected to produce efficient crossbred offspring, in contrast to the present where selection exclusively focus on improving performance of purebreds.
The project is financed by GUDP, VikingGenetics, Aarhus University, SEGES, Viking Denmark and SimHerd A/S.
Effective start/end date01/10/201830/09/2022

ID: 167591246