Breakeven prices for recording of indicator traits to reduce the environmental impact of milk production

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  • Helen Hansen Axelsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Sweden
  • Jørn Rind Thomasen
  • Anders Christian Sørensen
  • Lotta Rydhmer, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Sweden
  • Morten Kargo
  • Kjell Johansson, Växa Sweden, Sweden
  • W F Fikse, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Sweden
A breeding scheme using genomic selection and an indicator trait for environmental impact (EI) was studied to find the most effective recording strategy in terms of annual monetary genetic gain and breakeven price for the recording of indicator traits. The breakeven price shows the investment space for developing a recording system for an indicator trait. The breeding goal consisted of three traits – milk production, functional trait and environmental impact – with economic values of €83, €82 and €−83, respectively. The first scenario included only breeding goal traits and no indicator traits (NoIT). The other scenarios included all three breeding goal traits and one indicator trait (IT) for EI. The indicator traits were recorded on a large scale (stayability after first lactation and stature), medium scale (live weight and greenhouse gases (GHG) measured in the breath of the cow during milking) or small scale (residual feed intake and total enteric methane measured in a respiration chamber). In the scenario with stayability, the genetic gain in EI was over 11% higher than it was in NoIT. The breakeven price of recording stayability was €8 per record. Stayability is easy to record in the national milk recording system, and its use as an indicator trait for EI would not generate any additional recording costs. Therefore, stayability would be a good indicator trait to use to mitigate EI. The highest genetic gain in EI (23% higher compared to NoIT) was achieved when the GHG measured in the breath of the cow was used as indicator trait. The breakeven price for this indicator trait was €29 per record in the reference population. Ideally the recording of a specific indicator trait for EI would take place when: (i) the genetic correlation between the IT and EI is high; and (ii) the number of phenotypic records for the indicator trait is high enough to achieve a moderately high reliability of direct genomic values
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Volume132
Issue1
Pages (from-to)30-41
Number of pages11
ISSN0931-2668
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

    Research areas

  • Breakeven price, dairy cattle, environmental impact, funding information

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