Thousands of cows to be tested for bTB resistance

Marco Winters
30 Mar 2018

Researchers are to genetically profile cows from UK dairy herds and plan to use the data to develop a tool that will allow producer to breed cattle that are more resistant to bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

AHDB Dairy has announced that it will be partnering with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to embark on two new projects, which is says will take the industry one step closer to eradicating the disease.

Developing national database

Using recent AHDB research, which identified significant genetic variations between resistant and non-resistant dairy cattle, AHDB and SRUC intend to develop a national database of genetic evaluations and a new genomic prediction tool. This will allow producers to identify natural resistance traits and make informed decisions about which cattle they choose to breed, depending on their resistance to bTB.

The first of the two projects, scheduled to begin later this year, will be in partnership with the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and will focus specifically on dairy cattle. Innovate UK have granted AHDB and CIEL £360,000 of funding, to buy genotyping services to profile around 12,000 cattle.

Game-changing potential

“This will allow a far greater number of cattle to be included in the database, ensuring greater accuracy when the improved genomic prediction tool is put into practice,” says AHDB Dairy’s head of animal genetics Marco Winters. “This project has game-changing potential for the dairy industry and is a further demonstration of how the industry is actively using genetics, as part of wider industry initiatives, toward a sustainable livestock sector.”