CALGARY—An Alberta-Ontario-led research team has launched a project designed to help grow Canada’s dairy industry. The research will use genomics-based approaches to select dairy cattle with the genetic traits needed for more efficient feed conversion and lower methane emissions.
The research project, which will take advantage of an award-winning phenotyping platform, will cost $10.3 million.
Genome Canada, a publicly funded not-for-profit corporation that initiates, funds, and manages genomics research and partnerships, will provide approximately $3.9 million of the funds, with the balance coming from a diverse range of industry organizations and international research partners, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency.
Genome Canada noted that the Canadian dairy industry adds more than $16 billion to Canadian GDP each year, and as international demand for dairy products grows in the coming years, due to growing middle classes in emerging economies and a general global population increase, demand for high-quality milk proteins from Canada is also going to increase. The research team, led by Filippo Miglior of the University of Guelph and Paul Stothard from Livestock Gentec at the University of Alberta will use the latest techniques to collect and assess the required data to carry out the selection.
The results of this $10 million project will assist dairy farmers and the dairy industry to breed cattle that are more feed-efficient and produce less methane. The organization hopes the results will allow farmers to save money, as feed is the single largest expense in milk production, while increasing the competitiveness of the country’s dairy industry.
The project is also designed to reduce the environmental footprint of the dairy industry, in part due to lower methane emissions, but also because more feed efficient animals produce less manure waste.
Broad application of the project’s findings will be enhanced by the involvement of several industry organizations and international research partners in the project, not only benefiting Canada’s dairy industry, but also contributing to global food security and sustainability, Genone Canada said.