The appropriate use of genetics is a major contributor to increasing productivity, health and welfare in the dairy sector. New breeding technologies, such as genomic selection, are also advancing rapidly. The UK needs to be at the leading edge of these developments, in order to remain competitive internationally.
Collaborating with industry, DairyCo is continuing to develop UK genetic evaluations, made available to farmers through Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI), and capable of making comparisons within and across breeds. Over the last decade, the focus has been on increasing the range and reliability of selection for fitness traits, to produce productive, more robust and longer lived cows. The UK now weights production at 45% of the selection index, with 55% attributed to fitness traits.
Current and recent projects include the incorporation of genomic selection into UK genetic evaluations; expanding selection indices to include a mastitis sub-index, the production of customised herd index; and the development of carcass estimated breeding values (EBV's).