The Brumby Labor Government will fast-track development of a new DNA testing technique that will boost the state’s dairy sector by up to $250 million over the next 10 years.
Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said the $1.2 million project would allow farmers to use the latest science to take the guess work out of breeding, leading to greater export success and boosting job creation in regional Victoria.
“The Brumby Labor Government is working with the dairy industry and farmers to improve the strength, success and profitability of this vital sector,” Mr Helper said.
“This innovative work means Victoria is within a hair’s breath of knowing exactly what makes a good dairy cow tick.”
Mr Helper said that over the next 18 months, the genetic makeup of thousands of the state’s most productive Holstein dairy cows will be tested by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to identify the DNA coding of a successful dairy cow.
A simple hair sample from more than 8000 Holstein cows will be collected and, using a test developed by DPI scientists and others, will create a ‘genetic library’ to identify the markers of success,” he said.
DPI Genetics research leader Ben Hayes said by cross checking their cow’s genetic credentials against her actual performance in the herd, farmers could take the guess work out of breeding and more efficiently increase the productivity of their herds.
“This means our future dairy herds will produce more milk for the same amount of feed, live longer and better pass on these traits to future generations,” Mr Hayes said.
“This is using technology to fast track Darwin’s theory of evolution, to further build on a very strong industry.”
The cows’ genetic information will flow directly into the process of assessing the merit of all bulls and cows in the country and will deliver on-farm gains that are worth $100 million after a decade.
The impact on the Victorian dairy sector after a decade is estimated at $250 million in new jobs and export growth.
The project is a joint partnership between DPI, the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre and industry participants.
Today’s announcement forms part of the Brumby Labor Government’s $631 million blueprint to drive economic growth in regional and rural Victoria by attracting jobs, major new investment and more opportunities for young people to keep them living and working locally.
Ready for Tomorrow: A Blueprint for Regional and Rural Victoria delivers a new vision, backed by record funding to secure the future prosperity of regional and rural Victoria.