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Crossbreeding - optimization across dairy breeds (DairyCross)

  • Title: Crossbreeding - optimization across dairy breeds (DairyCross)
  • Funded by: GUDP
  • AU project manager: Senior researcher Jørn Rind Thomasen, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Center for Quantitative Genetics and Genomics / VikingGenetics
  • Collaboration partners: VikingGenetics, VikingDenmark, SimHerd, SEGES, Department of Animal Science  (AU)
  • Project period: 1 October 2018 – 30 September 2022
  • Funding: 14.936.726 DKK

Project description

The project’s objective is to improve the competitive position of Danish dairy producers and the cattle breeding association VikingGenetics, as well as improving the utilisation of resources in the dairy cattle sector by using the full potential in crossbreeding between dairy races. Largely, crossbreeding is used within other production branches in order to obtain crossbreeding richness, but has a limited penetration in dairy cattle due to lack of management tools. The project will result in crossbred cows with improved health, fertility, and durability. This will lead to approx. 200 mill. DKK per year in further economic effects for the milk producers, a lower food consumption per kilo value substance, and a lower CO2 emission per kilo value substance. Further, a larger genetic diversity within the breeds is obtained. The project’s objective will be met by developing and implementing decision support tools in the form of 1) genetic values for crossbred animals based on genomic information, 2) new modules for the  simulation programme SimHerd, so it will be able to support the decisions the individual milk producer has to make for his livestock regarding crossbreeding, and 3) new modules for the insemination planning programme, so it will be able to maximise the crossbreeding richness in each mating by means of genomic information. Further, as the first, the project will build a decision base for the design of purebred lines of dairy cattle, which are chosen to produce efficient crossbred progeny as opposed to the present state, where the breeding effort only focuses on the improvement of the purebred animals’ performance.