A Thriving and Resilient Dairy Cattle Industry

Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of agricultural products. Canadian farmers are poised to play a decisive role in meeting the 70% increase in world food demand expected by 2050. Dairy cow growth, milk production, and reproduction, as well as their overall health and welfare, can be strongly influenced by changes in air temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors, including climate change.

Genetic selection plays an essential role in breeding livestock to better cope with rapidly changing climate and environmental factors. In collaboration, Semex Alliance and the University of Guelph will provide innovative methods to select the right genetic traits to breed robust dairy cows that are resilient to environmental stressors, such as extreme hot or cold temperatures while maintaining health, production, and reproductive efficiency.

This proof-of-concept project integrates phenotypic data collected using automated sensor technologies with high-throughput genotypes of dairy cows. By applying genomics-derived processes for identifying healthy, fertile, resilient animals for use in genomic selection programs, this project strengthens Ontario’s dairy sector leadership and provides opportunities for large-scale application in Canada and around the world.

“Breeding animals resilient to heat stress and other environmental challenges exacerbated through climate change is a very important goal that will ensure a safe and sustainable food supply in a changing environment.”

— Dr. Christine Baes, Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph & Canada Research Chair at Livestock Genomics

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