Genetic differences in feed digestibility of dairy cows

Project: PhD

Project Details


Because of the economic importance of feed on dairy farms (~ 50% of the production costs), studies has been directed toward improving feed efficiency, and this trait is currently included in breeding objectives. Although it has been shown feed efficiency is partly explain by digestibility, it is still unknown how they are related. Moreover, there is little knowledge on digestibility from a genetic perspective as it has been studied only at small scale. This study aims to analyse feed digestibility on a larger scale (~ 450 cows from commercial farms, in collaboration with the breeding company CRV) in collaboration with Animal Nutrition group (WP 1.4). Genetic parameters (heritability, genetic variance and correlation with other traits (e.g., dry matter intake; fertility)) will be estimated to (1) determine the effects of current selection on digestibility and to (2) assess the potential of selection for feed digestibility. In addition, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) will be carried out to provide information on the genetic architecture of feed digestibility. Eventually, a method for fast and on-farm estimation of feed digestibility will be investigated, for instance, a portable near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) device.
Effective start/end date1/02/22 → …


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