EnviroCow offers genetic index

Helping dairy farmers breed more environmentally friendly cows is the aim of a new genetic index being launched in August by AHDB Dairy.

The first, EnviroCow, reflects the important role genetics and breeding play in improving the environmental efficiency of milk production and is the result of over 30 years of research and data collection from the award-winning Langhill herd in Dumfries, undertaken by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Incorporating cow lifespan, milk production, fertility along with the new Feed Advantage index, the AHDB said that EnviroCow would be one of the first genetic indexes in the world to focus solely on breeding cows for their environmental credentials.

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“The environmental focus of EnviroCow reflects the important role cattle breeding can play in helping the farming industry reach its goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Marco Winters, head of animal genetics with the organisation.

Revealing that EnviroCow would be expressed on a scale of about -3 to +3, where the highest positive figures are achieved by bulls which transmit the best environmental credentials to their daughters, he said:.

“These will be cows which are predicted to create the least GHG emissions in their lifetimes for each kilogram of solids-corrected milk they produce.”

And Winters explained that Feed Advantage, incorporated in EnviroCow, would help dairy producers identify bulls with the greatest tendency to transmit good feed conversion on to their daughters, with both measures helping to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint and improve thecarbon emission credentials of dairy cows.

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