Genetics of Dairy Feed Efficiency

Joel Hastings

The speakers at the CDCB meeting conclude with a panel discussion. From left are James Koltes, Paul VanRaden, Mike Vandehaar, Francisco Penagaricano and Kent Weigel, Univ. of Wis. Photo by Randall Blodgett

The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) hosted its fifth annual industry meeting at World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 1, drawing dairy producers and representatives from artificial insemination (AI), genomic nominators, breed associations, dairy herd information (DHI) and dairy records processing centers (DRPCs).

Presentations and conversation centered on the intersection of feed intake, feed efficiency and social responsibility. Detail was shared on U.S. genetic evaluations for feed efficiency – expected to be available in 2020 – and possible through expanded data collection and research funded by CDCB and Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).

Paul VanRaden, USDA AGIL, describes the feed efficiency trait that will be launched as an individual trait and incorporated into the Net Merit index in 2020

Keynote presentations were delivered by principle researchers at the five institutions participating in the FFAR-CDCB supported research.

In opening remarks, CDCB Chair Neal Smith called for stronger collaboration and focus on producers. “Our focus moving forward – in addition to providing the best genetic possible evaluations – is stronger collaboration and communication with stakeholders. Dairy producers are at the top of that list.”

João Dürr, CEO of CDCB, challenged the audience: “What is the next disruptive technology that will change our industry in the way that genomics has? I believe that is big data. It’s already here. How do we leverage it to improve our systems and dairy management?” Dürr detailed learnings from CDCB’s February input session in Reno, Nev., outlined 2019 highlights and previewed 2020 priorities.


Peggy Coffeen, dairy journalist, emceed the event.

Speaker presentations can be found here

The CDCB Annual Report can be found here

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