Developing and evaluating strategies for incorporating the knowledge derived from WP3, WP4, WP5 and WP6 into breeding programmes for the dairy cows of the future

Leader: Andrew Cromie (Irish Cattle Breeding Federation)

Task 7.1. World survey of dairy cattle; breeding, production systems and supporting structures
(A) Establish key statistics for dairy production worldwide (numbers, outputs, inputs, environmental impact and economics).
(B) Identify and characterise the organisational structures and functions that facilitate the genetic improvement of dairy cattle worldwide. We will fist determine the relative size and role of the sub-populations of dairy cattle used for: research, breeding nuclei (bull studs), commercial breeding nuclei (bull breeder herds), commercial herds which do not contribute to genetics but do provide phenotype data, and non-recorded commercial herds. We will then determine for each sub-population: i) which phenotypes are measured; ii) which animals are genotyped; iii) the breeding objective and selection criteria; iv) the means by which replacement animals are sourced.
(C) Identify and characterise those organisations that are facilitating the discovery and development of genomic knowledge for application in the improvement of dairy cattle.
(D) Establish the economic, biological and environmental impact parameters for each of the main dairy farm production systems found worldwide.

Task 7.2. Build predictive models of economics, genetics and knowledge development
A mathematical model will be developed to establish the long-term relationship(s) between dairy farm profitability, genetic improvement and genomic knowledge development. Key elements in the development of this model will include: the current industry structure (Task 7.1); sub-populations to make rational breeding decisions; predictions of genetic trends, loss of genetic variation, economic impact of genetic change at subpopulation, national and global level; validation of the model.

Task 7.3. Explore strategic options
The model developed in Task 7.2 will be used to explore the impact of a number of strategic options both in advance of and following consultation with the international cattle breeding community (Task 7.4). The initial options to be explored will include widespread genotyping, availability of new phenotypes, new understanding of the way genes control variability in important traits, worldwide aggregation and sharing of phenotypes and genotypes, widespread availability of low cost full gene sequences, selection of research herds based on genomic information, impact of genomic selection tools for disease resistance.

Task 7.4. Strategic review with key stakeholders
To ensure the strategic option explored takes account of the interests and concerns of key stakeholders in the worldwide cattle breeding industry (identified in Task 7.1), a one day strategic review workshop will be organised that will focus on the outcome of the strategic options evaluated in Task 7.3 and the identification of other options for exploration using the tools developed in Task 7.2. The output will be a list of obstacles to the realisation of options for best exploiting genomic knowledge in dairy cattle breeding.

Task 7.5. Identify solutions to obstacles
Following consultation with the cattle breeding industry and further evaluation of strategic options, a consolidated list of obstacles will be created. A range of solutions will be developed, evaluated and proposed to the key stakeholders.

Task 7.6. Review legislation
It is anticipated that current state, federal and EU legislation will be identified as needing amendment to facilitate the removal of obstacles to optimal progress. The legislative framework surrounding cattle improvement of four countries (UK, Belgium, Denmark and Ireland) along with the overarching EU instruments will be reviewed, and those elements limiting progress identified and alternatives will be proposed and evaluated.

WP2 WP3 WP4 | WP5 | WP6 | WP7 WP8 WP9

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