On Friday the 16th of May the seminar entitled ‘10 years Milk Genomics Initiative’ took place. The aim of the Milk Genomics Initiative is to explore genetic variation in milk composition. This information can be used to breed cows which produce milk with a composition which is better suited for the production of for example infant formula, cheese or butter. The seminar presented a concise overview of all the work that took place over the past 10 years.
The Milk Genomics Initiative has shown that milk components like healthy fats, proteins for cheese production, vitamin B12 and minerals are strongly affected by genetic factors. In addition, a number of genes with a major effect on milk composition could be identified. Some of these major “milk genes” are also related to traits like fat crystallization and casein phosphorylation which might be of relevance for manufacturing properties of milk. Bio-economic modelling showed that selection for a different fat or protein composition has no apparent trade-offs on herd production and profitability.
Routine measurement of detailed milk composition is expensive and therefore it was investigated if a cheaper and faster method based on Infra-Red spectra can be used for this purpose. It was shown that Infra-Red spectra contain valuable information on detailed milk fat composition. CRV, FrieslandCampina and QLIP are currently exploring further use of Infra-Red spectra and have set up the infrastructure for large-scale recording of Infra-Red spectral data of individual milk samples.
Using the results from Milk Genomics Initiative, CRV started marketing bulls with favourable genotypes for cheese production.
Milk Genomics Initiative of great value
The knowledge generated in the Milk Genomics Initiative is of great value, not only for innovations in the dairy chain, but also for understanding signals in milk which are indicators of cow health or methane emission.
More information about the Dutch Milk Genomics Initiative can be found on the website: www.milkgenomics.nl.