Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Gerry Ritz announced on July 21st that $93 million would be invested through government-industry partnerships in genomic research in 11 projects in agriculture and aquaculture. Total federal government support for the projects amounts to $30.8 million. In dairy, $3.8 Million will be invested in a dairy cattle feed efficiency project led by Dr. Filippo Miglior of the Canadian Dairy Network & University of Guelph and Dr. Paul Stohard of the University of Alberta. With industry funding of $860,000 provided by the Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) and the DairyGen Council plus additional funding from partners like ALMA, the total project investment amounts to $10.3 Million.
CDN Chairman Gary Bowers said, “CDN is very pleased with the news from Genome Canada to fund this project, which will undoubtedly position Canada among world leaders in terms of the opportunity for genetic and genomic selection to improve efficiency and decrease methane emissions in dairy cattle”.
Project Summary: Increasing feed efficiency and reducing methane emissions through genomics: A new promising goal for the Canadian dairy industry
Project leaders: Filippo Miglior, CDN & University of Guelph; Paul Stothard, University of Alberta
Lead Genome Centres: Genome Alberta, Ontario Genomics Institute
Total funding: $10.3 million
Dr. Filippo Miglior of the University of Guelph and Dr. Paul Stothard of the University of Alberta are leading a team that will use genomics‐based approaches to select for cattle with the genetic traits needed for more efficient feed conversion and lower methane emissions. To date, it has been both difficult and expensive to collect the data required for such selection. The latest genomic approaches offer an opportunity to address these problems and collect and assess the required data to carry out the selection.
The results of this project will assist dairy farmers and the industry more broadly to develop cattle that will carry these two important traits. Farmers will save money (as feed is the single largest expense in milk production), while the international competitiveness of Canada’s dairy industry will increase. The environmental footprint of the dairy industry will also be reduced, in part due to lower methane emissions, but also because more feed efficient animals produce less manure waste. Broad application of the project’s findings will be enhanced by the involvement of several industry organizations and international research partners in the project, not only benefiting Canada’s dairy industry, but also contributing to global food security and sustainability.