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MSU nets $5 million grant to increase dairy production efficiency
Date:6/20/2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. As human populations increase and available arable land decreases, agricultural systems are under pressure to produce more food more efficiently.

Michigan State University researchers believe that breeding dairy cows that produce milk with less feed can help meet this goal.

"We already know how to get cows to produce more than 100 pounds of milk a day we have the science to be able to do that," said Mike VandeHaar, animal science professor and MSU AgBioResearch faculty member. "Our question now is whether some cows are genetically predisposed to produce that milk with less feed. If we find that feed efficiency is inherent in a cow's DNA, it will improve our ability to sustainably produce the milk and dairy products that our growing population consumes."

Through a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, VandeHaar and his fellow MSU researchers have set goals to increase the efficiency and sustainability of milk production by:

  • Educating future leaders, voters and consumers about key practices in dairy husbandry that promote feed efficiency and sustainability.
  • Developing a feed-efficiency database on 8,000 genomically characterized Holstein cows.
  • Determining the genetic architecture of feed efficiency and building a foundation for genomic selection of more efficient animals.
  • Developing and implementing genomic breeding tools to produce cows with enhanced feed efficiency.
  • Developing and implementing practical support tools to improve whole-herd feed efficiency.

"We are excited about this USDA grant program," VandeHaar said. "Improving stewardship of resources in the dairy industry has been a lifelong passion of mine. If we're going to eat animal products and feed more people, we have to do it more efficiently."

The goal is not just increasing the amount of milk a cow produces, but increasing efficiency
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Contact: Layne Cameron
layne.cameron@ur.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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