Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 5, 2007
Publication Date: July 8, 2007
Citation: Wiggans, G.R. 2007. Harnessing Automatic Data Collection to Enhance Genetic Improvement Programs. Journal of Dairy Science. 90(Suppl. 1):377(abstr. 422). Technical Abstract: Automatic data collection can improve data accuracy, reduce cost of obtaining data, and enable addition of other traits. In the United States, genetic improvement programs for dairy cattle have benefited from a long history of innovation related to data collection and processing: computerization in the 1950s, establishment of laboratories for component testing in the 1960s, electronic transfer of data from farms and laboratories in the 1980s, on-farm data entry in the 1990s, and the recent use of hand-held devices. The recent evolution of increasing emphasis on fitness relative to yield is likely to be hastened because of automated data collection. Electronic milk meters currently are used for 7% of DHI cows and can provide data on total yield, milking speed, and milk conductivity. Other sensors may be added to detect progesterone levels, milk temperature, and information on component concentration. The expected widespread adoption of radio-frequency identification will facilitate electronic collection of data by improving the reliability of identification determination. Electronic scales may be justified as a way to determine body condition score automatically. Hand-held computers may facilitate collection of health data and increase uniformity across herds. Weather data may be used to account for environmental effects better. As the number of traits increases, herds that can supply more data will become increasingly important. A separate progeny-test category may be developed for farms that collect all data electronically and have those data monitored closely. Owners could be paid for their data on a quality basis, thus adding a source of revenue. Such herds could also have parentage verification to improve accuracy further. Automated data collection along with parentage verification offers substantial opportunities for genetic improvement of overall economic merit.