More fertile, productive
and healthy herds

We have delivered genomic technology to Australian dairy cattle breeding, unlocking faster and more targeted genetic gains

Genomic selection uses thousands of individual points of variation in the DNA sequence to predict the merit of every bull and cow. It is now commonplace for young bulls that are less than two years old to be marketed based on their DNA analyses. This is a big change from the usual approach of waiting until bulls are 6 to 10 years old so that they can be marketed based on the performance of their progeny. The inherent value of this new innovation is:

  • Genomic selection works for all traits that farmers seek to improve (such as fertility or milk protein)
  • Every assessment using genomic selection is based on the knowledge of how variation in DNA sequences impacts performance under Australian farming conditions
  • The method of genomic selection has been continually improved, leading to more reliable predictions of merit
  • New traits can be developed that are not routinely measured on farm. Genomic selection can be applied to traits that are studied intensively on selected farms or research stations.

FEATURED IMPACTS

DOUBLE THE RATE
OF GENETIC GAIN

We can speed up genetic gain by using elite young sires and reducing the interval between generations

IMPROVED DAIRY FERTILITY

We led a whole-of industry effort that is turning around a fertility decline in the modern Australian dairy cow

WORLD FIRST TRAITS

Australian farmers can select cattle that require less feed (called Feed Saved) and will soon be able to select cattle for heat tolerance

COW TESTING

A DNA test for cows gives the same information as waiting until the cow has records from nine lactations

Pastures with higher yield, energy and persistence

Pasture improvement is a fundamental driver of on-farm productivity

Breeding new pasture varieties involves six years of deliberate crossing of elite plants followed by six years of product testing. This leads to steady gains and high levels of confidence in the performance of new varieties, but creates significant limitations on the rate of progress. Our work has overcome many of these constraints and delivered new methods to improve pastures, including:

  • Breeding programs that can deliver hybrid vigour in commercial quantities of seed. Vigour will improve pasture yields
  • Genomic selection, where DNA markers are used to make faster and more accurate assessments of individual plant performance
  • Identification of novel endophytes (fungi) that extend the persistence of pasture
  • Genetic modification, where insertion of additional copies of two ryegrass genes lead to large gains in energy density.

FEATURED IMPACTS

HIGH YIELDS

New varieties with hybrid vigour and genomic selection can increase yields by 20% and 15%, respectively

HIGH ENERGY

New varieties of genetically modified ryegrass have higher levels of metabolisable energy
(1 megajoule per kilogram of dried pasture)

PERSISTENCE

New pasture varieties with novel endophytes (fungi) can extend their productive life by 1 year, or 15%

An innovative Education and Training Program

Our strong education program leaves a legacy well beyond the training of talented people

Forty-four graduate and post-graduate students have excelled at taking on new science frontiers. Through an active mentoring program and a range of activities to increase students' understanding of dairy industry challenges, our students have embedded industry priorities in their fields of work. We also have one eye on the next generation of science-literate Australians and have taught more than 12,000 secondary school students and teachers about the marvels of science in active use by farmers.

About Dairy Futures CRC

Dairy Futures CRC is a research centre that has captured bioscience-based innovations for the Australian dairy industry. Dairy is a major national industry for Australia. Our challenge, as set by representatives of the dairy industry, has been to increase the international competitiveness of the dairy industry.

Dairy Futures CRC began operations in January 2010 and will complete its term in June 2016.

Read more about usDairy Futures CRC Achievements
Report (About Us section)
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OF AGRIBIO
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Essential Participants

SUPPORTING PARTICIPANTS AND PROJECT PARTNERS - INDUSTRY

SUPPORTING PARTICIPANTS AND PROJECT PARTNERS - RESEARCH AND GRANT ORGANISATIONS

The future application of dairy bioscience in Australia

A large new R&D initiative called DairyBio will continue programs of work in forage improvement and herd improvement, as well as education and engagement activities, for the Australian dairy industry.

Visit Dairybio website