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Dairy goat industry gets $3.6 million research boost

Immediate use

Dairy goat industry gets $3.6 million research boost

Media Release - University of Auckland - 10 September 2015

A research grant of $3.63 million from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment is set to boost dairy goat productivity in the near future.

The three year study is led by Professor Russell Snell and Associate Professor Klaus Lehnert from the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland.

The research is aimed at accelerating sustainable productivity gain within the Dairy Goat Co-Operative (NZ) Ltd (DGC) with the primary product target of high value infant formula.

This will be achieved through the enhancement and integration of molecular genetics technologies to the conventional breeding programme being established by DGC, and will deliver an enhanced breeding and genetics distribution scheme.

“The benefits will be achieved through genetic selection of animals with increased production of total milk and high-value milk protein, without compromising the industry’s high environmental and animal welfare standards,” says Professor Snell.

“The current state of animal improvement is ad hoc, with farmers swapping bucks with relatively limited dam performance records and without access to DNA-based selection tools,” he says.

“This project will apply large-scale phenotyping and population-based genetics approaches to the planned buck proving scheme to define the best genetics and make it available for wide-spread use.

“The outcome will remove a significant bottleneck to on-farm productivity improvements that support premium infant formula products.” says Professor Snell. “The research will enhance and further accelerate NZ’s first state-of-the-art dairy goat breeding and milk testing scheme.”

He says that incorporation of modern molecular genetics approaches will preserve and enhance the diversity and resilience of the national herd while minimising inbreeding.
The research will increase dairy goat productivity by at least 1.4 percent per year, compounding every year – supporting DGC’s high quality production base.

Critical steps are the acquisition of genetic DNA profiles for individual does and bucks and corresponding milk composition and volume records.

This is followed by integration of genetic profiles, milk records, and parentage information to discover causal genotype-phenotype relationships.

In addition to genetic variants with major effects, the researchers will identify markers that have individually minor effects, but make a large contribution to the trait when combined.
These can be used to select bucks and does for the breeding programme.

This research will enhance and further accelerate the industry’s first integrated, contemporary breeding scheme and support on-farm productivity increases in each annual breeding cycle whilst avoiding inbreeding.


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