- Period: 2016-04-01 2018-03-31
Partnership, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Collaborative REsearch and Develpment grant (RDC)
Programme de recherche en partenariat pour l’innovation en production et en transformation laitières - VII - Volet génomique, protéomique et métabolomique
Genetic selection has enabled considerable increases in dairy production. Only since 2005, the average for the Holstein breed has increased 5%, representing about 500kg of milk per year per cow. Despite a higher productivity, producers are concerned about the health and fertility traits of their animals. A decrease in performance for these traits involve important economic losses since the increase in costs for treating and replacing animals surpasses the gain in productivity. In addition, diminished health and fertility result in a higher cull rate and thus a higher number of animals on the farm to ensure replacement, which goes against sustanability objectives. In this project, we will develop a completely different genetic selection approach. The key principle at the core of genetic improvement is that individuals present differences in their DNA sequence and that these differences are responsible for differences in performances. The current models are linear, which implies the best performances are achieved by animals carrying a large number of regions with two identical DNA copies. In other words, current genetic evaluation are detrimental to animals carrying a certain genetic variability. This project relies on the well known fact that health and fertility traits respond well to inter-breed crossbreeding. We hypothesized that it is possible to choose complementary parents to ensure a diversity in regions known to be involved in the expression of health and fertylity traits without affecting the rest of the genome in order to preserve the gains made at the dairy production level. At completion, the project aims to develop a new way to select reproduction animal in terms of genetic complementarity in order to improve health and fertility traits. This will help dairy producer increase their revenues and improve the sustainability of their production.