These targets will not be achieved using current knowledge and technologies alone. A biological breakthrough is required.
The aim of this project is to increase our understanding of the key drivers of cow fertility. This knowledge will help us to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in fertility, while at the same time potentially uncovering new management interventions which are more effective then those currently available.
The key to this research is the development of a large scale fertility research herd. This herd is made up of just over 500 2015 born heifers. These heifers resulted from carefully selected contract matings, which allowed researcher to create two distinct group, with extreme diversity in their genetic fertility. Researchers will observe and measure this herd from birth, through until at least their first lactation. To find out more about the fertility research herd, click here.
Accelerate the rate of genetic gain in cow fertility
Researchers will use existing knowledge, industry data, and the fertility research herd to answer the following questions:
- How accurate is the current fertility breeding value?
- What new traits (phenotypes) can we measure and/or use to help us predict fertility?
Enhanced biological understanding
The aim is essentially to unravel the underlying biology that differentiates genetically fertile from genetically infertile cows.
The animals in the fertility research herd will be closely monitored from just after birth through growth, puberty, first pregnancy and into their first lactation. There is also potential for this project to extend out to cover the second lactation of these animals.
The focus will be on determining whether embryo survival can be increased by managerial manipulation, whether the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis during postpartum can be improved through managerial manipulations; and whether new markers of desirable phenotypes for fertility can be discovered.
This research project is now into its fourth year. The heifers in the fertility research herd are not far away from their first mating, and across the project some preliminary findings are starting to emerge. Click the links below to read about the recent discoveries.