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Economic values of production and functional traits, including residual feed intake, in Finnish milk production

P Hietala, M Wolfová, J Wolf, J Kantanen, J Juga
Journal of Dairy Science 2014, 97 (2): 1092-106
Improving the feed efficiency of dairy cattle has a substantial effect on the economic efficiency and on the reduction of harmful environmental effects of dairy production through lower feeding costs and emissions from dairy farming. To assess the economic importance of feed efficiency in the breeding goal for dairy cattle, the economic values for the current breeding goal traits and the additional feed efficiency traits for Finnish Ayrshire cattle under production circumstances in 2011 were determined. The derivation of economic values was based on a bioeconomic model in which the profit of the production system was calculated, using the generated steady state herd structure. Considering beef production from dairy farms, 2 marketing strategies for surplus calves were investigated: (A) surplus calves were sold at a young age and (B) surplus calves were fattened on dairy farms. Both marketing strategies were unprofitable when subsidies were not included in the revenues. When subsidies were taken into account, a positive profitability was observed in both marketing strategies. The marginal economic values for residual feed intake (RFI) of breeding heifers and cows were -25.5 and -55.8 €/kg of dry matter per day per cow and year, respectively. The marginal economic value for RFI of animals in fattening was -29.5 €/kg of dry matter per day per cow and year. To compare the economic importance among traits, the standardized economic weight of each trait was calculated as the product of the marginal economic value and the genetic standard deviation; the standardized economic weight expressed as a percentage of the sum of all standardized economic weights was called relative economic weight. When not accounting for subsidies, the highest relative economic weight was found for 305-d milk yield (34% in strategy A and 29% in strategy B), which was followed by protein percentage (13% in strategy A and 11% in strategy B). The third most important traits were calving interval (9%) and mature weight of cows (11%) in strategy A and B, respectively. The sums of the relative economic weights over categories for RFI were 6 and 7% in strategy A and B, respectively. Under production conditions in 2011, the relative economic weights for the studied feed efficiency traits were low. However, it is possible that the relative importance of feed efficiency traits in the breeding goal will increase in the future due to increasing requirements to mitigate the environmental impact of milk production.


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