MIRforProfit is investigating opportunities MIR analysis of herd test milk samples to predict production, feed efficiency, fertility, health and longevity.
MIR is a technology that passes a light beam through a milk sample to measure certain components. Traditionally it’s been used only to calculate milk fat and protein content. Recent research has shown it can be used indicate a cow’s status for energy balance, fertility, health, methane emissions and feed efficiency.
The information could be of value at two levels:
• For farmers and their advisors, MIR has the potential to provide far greater insight into the herd from milk recording; in relation to feed efficiency, negative energy balance, fertility, methane emissions and health. The results could allow farmers to identify individual animals to target management, selection and culling decisions.
• For the herd improvement industry, MIR has the potential to improve the accuracy of genomic Australian Breeding Values of key traits, particularly feed saved. MIR may also enable the development of breeding values for new traits.
The project is collecting Australian data to assess the validity of the overseas prediction equations for Australian production conditions. Running between 2015 and 2018, the project has involves very frequent herd recording and intensive data collection at the Victorian Government’s Ellinbank research herd. In 2016, the project added six commercial herds with different feed bases and diets that are herd recording and will add a further six commercial herds that are testing twice a month for the project. In 2016 and 2017 a further 10,000 commercial cows will be sampled.
The data is being used develop:
• A method for predicting the risk of an individual cow suffering from a potential health or fertility issue raising from negative energy balance in Australia.
• More accurate genomic breeding values of key traits.
• Software programs for herd test centres to use the data and prediction equations generated by the project.
The research team includes Jennie Pryce (DEDJTR), Phuong Ho (DEDJTR) and Michelle Axford, DataGene.
MIR Profit is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme. MIR Profit is led by Dairy Australia and supported by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, DataGene Limited and National Herd Improvement Association. There are opportunities for further organisations to be involved.