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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #412841

Research Project: Increasing Accuracy of Genomic Prediction, Developing Algorithms, Selecting Markers, and Evaluating New Traits to Improve Dairy Cattle

Location: Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory

Title: The value of a national evaluation system in promoting dairy sustainability

item Miles, Asha
item PARKER GADDIS, KRISTEN - Council On Dairy Cattle Breeding
item FOURDRAINE, ROBERT - Dairy Records Management Systems(DRMS)

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2024
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Sustainable agriculture is best defined as a balance of practices that promote economic vitality, protect the natural environment, and build healthy communities in the present without compromising the future. The dairy industry has seen tremendous gains in productive efficiency following decades of work with these goals in mind. A major tool contributing to this progress is the National Cooperator Database (NCD), which was developed in partnership with key industry groups. Involving a complex system of management and both domestic and international data sharing, the NCD now encompasses over 8.5 million genotypes, 90 million pedigrees, and 100 million lactation records. The primary outputs of this system are national genetic and genomic evaluations that are delivered to participants tri-annually. A robust, comprehensive database with a high-level of participation from dairy herds can have additional impact. Greater genetic gains have resulted in a faster rate of inbreeding, a well-established antagonist to cow health and performance. The marketability of high genetic merit sires limits male genetic variation, and so conserving female genetic diversity must be a top priority. With dairy genetics being traded all over the world, the NCD enables the monitoring of inbreeding at the global population level. Dairy systems are continually evolving thanks to technology advancements, changing consumer values, and resource availability. Frequent interrogation of the NCD can facilitate the early detection of changing industry trends like the rise in embryo transfer or the high popularity of beef-on-dairy crossbreeding to sustain farm profits. These changes impact the accuracy of existing evaluations for traits like fertility, but also highlight the need for improvement tools that are just as dynamic as the dairy industry. An industry-wide effort is underway to develop a herd-level sustainability metrics platform that would support dairy producer ability to farm and track their progress in key health and production areas. This pre-competitive collaboration among dairy industry groups ensures the reliable flow of accurate data so we can continue to develop tools to support the dairy producer in the present and future.