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Breeding for Feed Efficiency in Australia
May 26, 2015

A NEW Australian genetic breeding value will help Australian farmers breed a herd that produces the same amount of milk for less feed. The new Feed Saved Australian Breeding Value (ABV) is the result of eight years of research and development by the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

Dairy Futures CRC chief executive Dr David Nation said the Feed Saved ABV was the world’s first feed efficiency breeding value that incorporated real feed intake data as well as a prediction of feed required for maintenance. “This is the first practical use of genomic tests to measure a trait that can’t be routinely measured on farm, and the start of more extensive genomic testing to improve the range of traits important to dairyfarmers,” he said. “Visually, you can’t spot a highly feed-efficient cow, but farmers can now breed for it.”

The Feed Saved ABV was published for the first time in April by the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS). It is included in the Good Bulls Guide. All of the new ADHIS Australian selection indices — the Balanced Performance Index, the Health Weighted Index and the Type Weighted Index — include the Feed Saved ABV trait. It replaces liveweight in the indices.

Dr Nation said the Feed Saved ABV would be relevant to all the feeding systems that dairyfarmers used in Australia.

“The Feed Saved ABV allows farmers to breed cows in a new way: by reducing their maintenance requirements for the same amount of milk produced,” Dr Nation said.

“Introducing the Feed Saved ABV creates a future where we can keep selecting for feed efficiency. Up until now, feed efficiency was delivered by bigger cows with sharp increases in milk production that increased faster than feed intake was increasing.

“This isn’t sustainable, as these larger cows now have a greater feed requirement for maintenance, and production can’t keep increasing at the same rate. The Feed Saved ABV provides a solution where farmers can now identify sires and cows that require less feed for the same amount of milk produced. They literally save feed.”

By: Carlene Dowie, Associate Editor, Australian Dairyfarmer
Source: Australian Dairyfarmer,


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