Why do some cows produce milk more efficiently i.e., higher productivity relative to feed consumption? Is it genetic? How can those traits be enhanced to maximize milk productivity?
These are the questions that agricultural scientists from New Zealand-based Livestock Improvement Corporation and Australian firm Innovative Dairy Products are hoping to answer in a $2 million government-funded trans-Tasman project.
“The target of the proposal is definitively to understand if there are significant genetic differences in the metabolic conversion efficiency between cows fed in a very similar manner.”
It would be possible to recognise tiny differences in the genetic code, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, which can alter a gene enough to make a cow susceptible or resistant to a specific disease, or to switch on a particular production trait.
Livestock Improvement Corporation was the first biotech firm to identify and license a test for the exact genes relating to milk production in cows.