Information on the GplusE project
Optimising production efficiency, environmental footprint, physiological status, health, welfare, and fertility of dairy cows is clearly a multi-factorial problem. To advance progress, we propose a holistic approach that considers both state-of-the-art genomic selection to optimise genetic merit and management strategies that takes full account of interacting factors contributing to phenotypes of efficient cows. Whilst each animal is bred with a genetic potential to achieve a certain level of productivity, the economically important phenotypes can only be realized if the cow is provided with a lifetime environment that enables her to fulfil her potential. The GplusE project will link new genomic data to a comprehensive array of phenotypic information that will go well beyond those traits currently recorded by most dairy breeding organisations. We will also develop systems which will focus herd and cow management on those key time points in dairy production which have a major influence on attributes of the rest of the productive cycle including efficiency, environment, health, fertility and welfare of cows. This will significantly advance the science, efficiency and management practices in dairy production well beyond the current state-of-the-art.
To achieve these aims, a large collaborative effort by interested parties across Europe is required. The GplusE consortium involves academic and industry partners from 6 EU countries together with the USA and China to allow access to a range of Holstein sub-types kept under both pasture-based and indoor intensive systems. The project will be completed over a 5-year period. The outcomes from this proposal will include identification of SNPs that add new and precisely defined phenotypes to selection programmes and management systems, enabling cows to remain healthy and thereby improving longevity and welfare. An increase in general cow health traits and, thus, a potential increase in intrinsic resistance to disease, will also result in reduced antibiotic intervention for the European dairy herd. This will not only lead to an increased food-product quality due to a lower incidence and scale of antibiotic residues, but may also help to slow down the development of multi-drug resistant bacteria through more appropriate and targeted use of antibiotics. Dissemination of the information (WP9) to relevant parties in the EU, USA and China is seen as an integral aspect of the project to which all consortium members will contribute.