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Improving dairy cattle

Eduardo Cesar DNA chip created to evaluate genetic characteristics of Girolando cattleEduardo Cesar

A genetic test designed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) could help to more quickly improve the Girolando dairy herd, a breed created in Brazil by crossbreeding the Gir, which copes well in hot weather, with the Dutch, a traditional dairy breed. The test uses genetic material extracted from blood cells to identify the presence of molecular markers associated with desired characteristics for the herd, such as greater milk production and resistance to diseases, before a bull or cow is selected for breeding. The DNA markers used in the genetic test were based on pedigree information from the Brazilian Association of Girolando Breeders. This data can be used to more accurately and efficiently determine which males and females are best for reproduction and milk production. Launched on the market in May this year, the test is designed to offer a faster alternative to traditional breeding methods, which are based on selective crossbreeding and dairy productivity assessments, and can take as long as a decade. The new tool was created in partnership between EMBRAPA Gado de Leite, the breeders’ association, and private companies CRV Lagoa and Zoetis. “The gene test will enable breeders to improve herds faster, and in the future we want to adapt it to allow embryos to be tested before implantation, which will optimize surrogate breeding,” explains zootechnician Marcos Vinícius Barbosa da Silva, from EMBRAPA Gado de Leite. “We are currently working to adapt this system to the Gir breed.”