The GplusE project will collect data on numerous phenotypic traits from many different dairy herds. To achieve this in a proper way, specific data collection and data storage tools have been developed.
First of all, GplusE scientists agreed on an ontology of key biological traits. Those relating to production efficiency, fertility and product quality were based on definitions and standards from the International Committee on Animal recording (ICAR); but daily and events based traits definitions have been reinforced using literature review of scientific papers. New definitions of traits relating to health were derived from the existing definitions and nomenclatures as proposed and used operationally by ICAR, OptiMIR milk recording organisation partners, and the Austrian health recording program. Regarding animal welfare traits, milk-based biomarkers are considered as potential indicators of heat stress in dairy cows. As for environmental foot print, existing literature and results from other collaborative projects were used to draft an exhaustive list of potential measurements, indicators and proxies of methane emissions and manure excretion.
A specific database has then been developed for a standardised collection of the phenotypic data describing the above-mentioned traits. The database is currently being used in the GplusE project to aggregate data for a large list of traits from existing cow studies by various project participants (around 400 cows) and from research farm studies (around 200 cows). Data for a subset of the traits will soon be collected from commercial farms (around 10 000 cows).
More information can be obtained from Miel.Hostens[at]ugent.be