A University of Wisconsin research professor is nearly finished with a study on genomic selection for feed efficiency in dairy cows.
Dr. Kent Weigel is the chairman of Dairy Science department, specializing in breeding and genetics. He says, “We’re trying to do 8,000 cows, we’re over 6,000 so far, and form a genomic reference population that then we can use to make predictions for feed efficiency. You know, using those data (sets), we can predict the feed efficiency of any heifer calf or the feed efficiency daughters of any bull at any breeding company.”
Weigel tells Brownfield the study has required a lot of labor over the past five years, making detailed measurements of each cow. “Specifically, how efficiently does each cow utilize the energy that she consumes, and in order to do that you measure every individual cow’s feed intake for a couple of months in the middle of lactation.”
Weigel says the results of the research will be available to the industry soon, saying, “Within the next month or later this year.”
Weigel says measuring feed efficiency on this scale wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but genomics technology has reduced the expense and labor.