We are providing genetic solutions for dairy farmers to succeed with the demands of sustainable dairy farming. Our new Saved Feed Index is a tool to breed climate-friendly cows with reduced methane emissions.
The genetic trend for cattle around the world has been towards cows becoming larger and heavier due to an emphasis on production capability. Now, the world is going through a massive change in attitudes when it comes to sustainable food production. Climate change is on consumers’ minds and is influencing their choices. This means that the dairy farming industry needs to come up with solutions for making dairy farming more sustainable and more organic.
Our latest endeavour in making the dairy industry more sustainable is the release of the Saved Feed Index. With thorough research and by joining forces with leading research partners, we have been able to create a trustworthy index for how efficient a cow is in turning feed into milk. The Saved Feed index will eventually include two separate breeding values; one for maintenance efficiency and one for metabolic efficiency. The breeding value for metabolic efficiency is expected to be launched later.
Maintenance efficiency doesn’t tell you anything about how efficiently an individual cow utilises the feed she eats. To be able to build a reliable index for this, a lot of information is needed on individual feed intake on a large scale.
VikingGenetics has developed a Cattle Feed Intake System (CFIT) where the feed intake of individual cows can be monitored by cameras in barns. Until we have enough data from CFIT research, our metabolic index will be based on available CFIT data and feed intake data from research farms in the Nordic countries together with data from around Europe and North America.
The breeding value for maintenance efficiency is based on different measures of live weight and size together with conformation breeding values. Sufficient data are available to support the new breeding value. For maintenance efficiency, daughters of two bulls having a difference of 20 index units will have a difference in dry matter intake of 60-80 kg per lactation. According to research, 88% of the variable costs on a dairy farm relate to feed costs. A Saved Feed Index is necessary to cope with sustainable practices, which is at the core of our philosophy of making everyday decisions easier and more efficient for dairy farmers around the world.