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Improving dairy feed efficiency

Photo by Anna Hastert

Animal agriculture can be a very complex arena to be involved in. Whether it is beef, dairy, pork, or lamb, there are many factors for producers to be thinking about. No matter how intricate the details of animal agriculture can be, the goal is actually very simplistic. Your animal takes its feed and converts it into a marketable commodity. In the case of the dairy cow, that commodity is milk. There is a study underway to see how we can make those dairy cattle better at what they do.

John Cole is the acting research leader at the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory. He talks about the need for the multi-year study now being conducted.

USDA is working alongside the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) and several universities to evaluate residual feed intake (RFI) at the genomic level. This means we will be able to see data based on sire evaluations. If they are correct, we could see the efficiency increase rapidly over sired generations. Animals could be producing more milk on less feed and doing it more efficiently.

The hope is that with the increase in efficiency, we will see an increase in profitability for American dairy producers.