Project500 looks at how cattle breeding can be used to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dairy production. The aim should be to produce an excellent quality product for the minimum GHG impact.
As one of the biggest emissions from dairy farming comes in the form of methane from rumen fermentation a key target is to get as much output from each cow as possible. However, this needs to be done using the minimum imported meal and silage, both of which have a higher GHG footprint than grazed grass. The keys to achieving this high output is a cow capable of calving early in the spring, having a long and productive lactation and going back in calf easily for next year. This is the essence of a high EBI cow.
The good news for farmers is the cows that are best from a GHG viewpoint are also best for profitability. Calving early, producing high volumes of fat and protein and staying in the herd.
The study below shows herds achieving this pattern of high output from fertility and grazed grass to have the lowest carbon footprint.
Another study by Teagasc has shown that with the increase in EBI over the past number of years the GHG per Kg output is reducing.
Project500 takes these principles and sets targets for Irish farms which start with excellent fertility and create the potential to increase national average output per cow from 410kg milk solids up to 500kg.
The System: grass based, simple, profitable and sustainable
The Targets: 90% 6 week calving rate & a mature herd
The cow: Fertile, productive, high EBI
The genetics: targets below
Sample bull team that meets targets:
|Code||Name||EBI||Rel||Prod||Fert||Milk||Fat||Prot||Fat %||Prot %|
|FR4513||(IG) BALLYGOWN ALBERT||€325||51||€131||€126||148||24.2||15.9||+0.31||+0.19|
|FR4515||(IG) WATERWHEEL WINSTON||€313||49||€73||€149||218||12.1||11.6||+0.06||+0.07|
|FR2460||(IG) NEXTGEN PHC EIMER 557||€312||63||€96||€158||35||15.0||11.6||+0.23||+0.18|
|FR4337||(IG) GABRIEL ZORO||€310||52||€114||€138||102||14.7||15.8||+0.18||+0.21|
|FR4338||(IG) CRAIGTOWN TORNADO||€308||51||€93||€140||155||14.6||13.1||+0.14||+0.14|
|FR2239||(IG) DIAMOND ANTON||€306||67||€103||€133||279||19.4||15.0||+0.14||+0.09|
|FR4540||(IG) CLOONEYBEAG EXCEED||€301||56||€105||€128||348||10.0||19.6||-0.06||+0.13|
|FR2298||(IG) OLCASTLETOWN RONALDO||€296||66||€101||€138||175||12.9||15.2||+0.10||+0.16|
|FR4545||(IG) BALLYDOOGAN TEMPLE||€294||60||€107||€118||581||15.6||21.5||-0.12||+0.03|
|FR4339||(IG) LEACHTNEILL DARBY||€293||59||€64||€151||60||7.9||9.1||+0.09||+0.12|
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