The major legacies of this work are the comprehensive ability of farmers to use genomics (DNA-based information) to make breeding decisions, and a suite of new pasture-breeding innovations that will deliver over $500 in value per hectare per year from improved yield, nutritive value and persistence.
The CRC’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr David Nation, said that Australia now has a new and impressive ability to do practical science on an enormous scale.
“We can now test the merit of any bull or cow against the DNA profiles from tens of thousands of cattle from across all states of Australia,” he said. “The final delivery of herd improvement innovations means that farmers will be able to use genomics with confidence, accessing young sires and making faster progress with herd improvement.”
All of these outcomes mean that the CRC has achieved its goal to double the rate of genetic gain and will deliver over $100 per cow per year in value from improved herds.
The CRC’s Chief Scientist and Executive Director of the Biosciences Research branch of Agriculture Victoria, Prof. German Spangenberg, described the progress made in pasture breeding as the most profound change in over 30 years.
“Our major achievement is the invention of a hybrid breeding technique for ryegrass breeding,” he said. “This will unlock a 20% yield advantage in hybrid ryegrass varieties and also make it easier for plant breeders to use genomic selection and add novel endophytes in new pasture varieties.”
Dairy Australia’s Managing Director, Mr Ian Halliday, said that the CRC model has been a great example of industry and research sectors working together. “Each year our $2 million investment of farmer levies resulted in $20 million of R&D activity and enabled very large research projects to deliver some of the most positive and permanent changes to dairy herds and dairy pastures,” he said.
A range of information about the achievements of the CRC is now available on the website, including a video with animated explanations of major outcomes and a comprehensive report.
Mr Halliday and Prof. Spangenberg are also confident about the future role of biosciences research to continue to improve pastures and herds. Both Dairy Australia and the Victorian Government are major investors in a new, five-year initiative called DairyBio.
“DairyBio will continue the partnership between industry and research sectors, make the most of the rapid progress in bioscience, and deliver commercial-ready solutions for a broad span of new innovations,” said Mr Halliday.
“We are pleased to continue to deliver solutions for Australian farmers that will drive down the cost of production and improve the quality of pastures and herds,” said Prof. Spangenberg.
About Dairy Futures CRC
Dairy Futures CRC (dairyfuturescrc.com.au) was established in 2010 as a dedicated research initiative for dairy bioscience. Working closely with major partners Dairy Australia and the Victorian Government, as well as 22 industry and research organisations in Australia and 36 international collaborators, the CRC has delivered a raft of innovations that will continue to shape the future of dairy cattle and pasture breeding in Australia.
Dairy Futures CRC was established and is supported under the Commonwealth Government’s Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program. The CRC Program supports industry led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community.
Dairy Futures CRC’s major achievements include:
• The delivery of genomic technology to dairy cattle breeding in Australia, enabling bulls to be marketed that are at least five years younger than traditional proven bulls.
• Delivery of a more relevant and reliable fertility trait, with the result that 58 of the top 100 bulls now have a very high fertility breeding value.
• A new breeding value for feed efficiency, the Feed Saved ABV, which is projected to save up to $30 per cow per lactation in feed costs by using Australian breeding indexes.
• A new approach to pasture breeding that delivers improved varieties much more quickly, and is capable of improving multiple traits simultaneously.
• Creation of a new hybrid breeding method for ryegrass that realises a 20% gain in yield.
• Development of new varieties of ryegrass that deliver an extra 1 megajoule of metabolisable energy to a grazing animal, with potential impact modelled at $450-$750 per hectare per year.
Contact :Jen Bladon-Clark, Communications Manager, Dairy Futures CRC
P: +61(4) 2170 8309 - E: jen.bladon-clark[.]dairyfuturescrc.com.au.