In a collaborative effort among several institutions, UF, Texas A&M, Cornell, Ohio State and the University of Minnesota, the USDA has granted a large fund to support a nation-wide project that will improve fertility in dairy cows using advanced genomic technologies.
Experts in dairy cattle reproduction, genetic selection, bioinformatics, dairy extension and education will come together from institutions across the country to lead the project. UF Animal Science Veterinarians, Dr. Klibs Galvão, Dr. Santos and Dr. Thatcher, along with a former resident, Dr. Pablo Pinedo who is now at Texas A&M, have been involved in the investigation and implementation of the project.
The study will assemble DNA and phenotypic databases for 12,000 Holstein dairy cows to perform genome-wide analyses for objective markers of fertility, validate significant associations and develop models for the estimation of genomic breeding values for fertility traits, then translate significant findings to genomic selection programs.
The project findings will be used to educate 4-H, FFA, undergraduate and graduate students in animal and veterinary sciences and industry stakeholders about economic benefits and best practices in dairy cattle reproduction and genetic selection. The information will be used to promote improvements in dairy production efficiency by enhancing fertility, productivity and health. The project will also modify curriculum and involve undergraduate and veterinary students in research activities and will develop and deliver a comprehensive educational course module that addresses key traditional and genomic selection practices for the dairy industry to teach Animal Science and Veterinary students from multiple universities.