The objective of ROBUSTMILK is to develop new practical technologies to allow breeders to re-focus their selection to include milk quality and dairy cow robustness and to evaluate the consequences of selection for these traits taking cognisance of various milk production systems. Six research organisations, all with a strong network in the animal breeding industry, have agreed to share knowledge and resources to develop a strong research program to achieve this objective. Each partner has its own specialised expertise (phenotypic recording, statistics, genomics) and unique data available, in the form of milk quality and dairy cattle robustness. The overall objective is achieved by five integrated workpackages, each having their own objective: 1) Creation of a common data-base that includes unique and scarcely recorded phenotypic measurements for traits underlying robustness and milk quality, together with productivity records and fertility; 2) to develop phenotypic measurement tools for robustness (energy balance) and milk quality (lactoferrin and fatty acid composition) using mid-infrared spectrometry; 3) to develop statistical tools to select for robustness and milk quality (udder health and SCC) taking into account complex biological backgrounds; 4) to develop genomic tools for selection for productivity, robustness (fertility, energy balance and udder health) and milk quality traits (lactoferrin and fatty acid composition); and 5) integrating and disseminating knowledge on the consequences of selection practises on robustness and milk quality. ROBUSTMILK has the potential to enhance the competitiveness of European agriculture through the production of higher quality dairy products and more sustainable dairy production systems. ROBUSTMILK will contribute significantly towards the Knowledge Based Bio Economy objective of the EU, through a greater understanding of factors contributing to genetic variation and exploiting this variation in a sustainable manner in genetic improvement programmes.
Fields of science
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