Exploitation of genomic technologies for sustainable intensification of dairy goats

Lead Research Organisation: SRUC
Department Name: Research

Abstract

This project addresses key challenges facing the sustainable intensification of dairy goat milk production by using new genetic and genomic technologies to improve the efficiency of milk production and continuity of supply. A key constraint is the inability of dairy goats to naturally breed out of season, thereby affecting year-round supply of milk. This project therefore will identify sires with daughters that readily breed out of season and to generate genomic predictions of merit for this trait. The exploitation of such ability by the wider commercial goat industry in the UK and abroad will be enabled via genomic predictions for this and a range of other key traits via the development in this project of a low density (LD), lower cost customised single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array for UK goats. This will facilitate the imputation from LD to the higher density SNP arrays and allow a greater proportion of the outer herd nucleus to be genotyped, thereby creating greater uptake and impact to the wider UK goat population and beyond. The project will ensure that the balance of breeding objectives for dairy goats is sustainable in the long-term, by including routine collection of conformation scoring and mastitis records as proxy indicators of animal health and longevity into the genomic predictions, thereby helping to translate this and previous TSB-funded research into practice

Technical Summary

This project addresses key challenges facing the sustainable intensification of dairy goat milk production by using new genetic and genomic technologies to improve the efficiency of milk production and continuity of supply.This project will identify sires with daughters that readily breed out of season and generate genomic predictions of merit for this trait. The exploitation of such ability by the wider commercial goat industry in the UK and abroad will be enabled via genomic predictions for this and a range of other key traits via the development of a low density (LD), lower cost customised single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array for UK goats. This allows the imputation from LD to the higher density SNP arrays and a greater proportion of the outer herd nucleus to be genotyped, thereby creating greater uptake and impact to a the wider UK goat population and beyond.

Planned Impact

This project offers a unique and innovative approach to prepare the UK goat milk industry to address the challenges it will face. The immediate beneficiaries will be Yorkshire Dairy Goats (YDG) and their customers, who will benefit through having goats that are able to breed out of season, and a more efficient farming enterprise with less wastage of young animals. YDG benefits from this project because the LD array (or 'chip') development requires knowledge from their existing project from the 50K array to produce the required SNPs, and through including out of season breeding as a breeding goal trait, it will become their unique selling point. The LD chip enables the proposed work to be more widely exploited and revenue generated for YDG because a 50k chip plus profit is too expensive for commercial goat producers. Once developed, their value is in enabling other goat producers to improve their animals either by buying YDG animals or in testing their own animals for traits they find difficult to record, such as mastitis.They also benefit through having healthier, longer-living animals, through the inclusion of mastitis, functional fitness and longevity into the genomic breeding programme. YDG benefits through their interaction with applied animal scientists at SRUC, which is reciprocated such that scientists are better able to understand and meet industry needs through their interaction with YDG staff. The UK goat industry as a whole benefits from having access to, and increased knowledge from the results of this project through open days, published articles and shared committees (Goat Veterinary Society). This has already been demonstrated through their (and other) invitations to YDG and SRUC staff to provide advice and deliver presentations (outputs) on goat breeding and health issues. The international scientific community benefits through having colleagues with which to compare results and foster closer collaborations in the pursuit of improving and enhancing methodologies. For instance, using the 50K array in the existing TSB-funded project had not been undertaken for a crossbred goat population in the world, neither had including females as well as males in the genotyped animal pool. The Government will benefit from their investment as this project supports a viable rural business and employer (YDG), whose profits are a source of tax revenue. It also benefits through enhanced food security, lower imports and export of superior genetics. Environmental benefits will be realised in this project through having fewer replacement animals waiting until their progeny are lactating, as the identification of potentially superior males can be done soon after birth with the new technology. Environmental benefits are also apparent as genetic selection is a cumulative and sustainable way to improve performance and reduce the inefficiencies. International governments in poorer countries (where subsistence farming is reliant on small ruminants such as many African countries) will also benefit from this project as they often do not have sufficient research capital available to undertake such a project to benefit their own farmers. The results and experience from this project may enable a step-change to occur in these countries through the generation of the LD arrays because they will be able to leap-frog the large investment required to replicate this project elsewhere and benefit from the lower cost LD technology.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The ability of goats to breed out of season is a moderately heritable trait that can be selected for, to extend the breeding season of dairy goats.
Exploitation Route Animals with good breeding values for out of season breeding will enable the industrial partner to market breeding stock with this information. They can also breed more of their own animals out of season to extend the supply of milk.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Yes, the industrial partner in theis project is already using the information to breed more efficient diary goats.
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description H2020
Amount € 7,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 11/2018 
End 10/2022
 
Description Conference talk - Review of UK dairy goat genetic improvement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Three papers presented at the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (WCGALP), Auckland NZ Feb 12-16, 2018. (1) Implementation of genomic selection in UK dairy goats. Mucha, Desire, Geddes, Mrode, Coffey & Conington, Paper no. 511. (2) Deriving genomic breeding values for feed intake and body weight in dairy goats. Desire, Mucha, Coffey, Broadbent, Conington, paper no. 818. (3) Genetic parameters for longevity traits in UK dairy goats. Geddes, Desire, Mucha, Coffey, Mrode, Conington, paper no.547 (poster).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description EAAP President of Sheep and Goat Commission, Belfast 29 Aug-2 September 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I organised the conference sessions for EAAP's Sheep and Goat Commission and chaired the 'free communications' session as well as the business meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.eaap2016.org/
 
Description Goat Veterinary Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave a talk about the goat research on genetics and genomics of conformation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Milking Goat Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Delivered a talk on genetics of dairy goat production including longevity and out of season breeding ability
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://en-gb.facebook.com/pg/MilkingGoatAssociation/photos/?ref=page_internal