Despite being the largest milk producer in the world, the milk yield per cow in India is still very low. Therefore, improving the rate of genetic gain in Indian dairy cattle would be a major step towards improving its efficiency and sustainability. Genomic selection, a modern breeding tool based on high-throughput DNA marker technologies, holds the potential to deliver substantial improvements for dairy cattle in India.

As part of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we developed a genomic selection model for Indian crossbred dairy cattle and apply it to over 140,000 milk records from smallholder farms in six states. The model incorporates information from around 5,000 cows genotyped for over 600,000 SNPs and relevant environmental and management factors. Even though the heritability for milk yield was low-to-moderate, we found promising cross-validation accuracies for genomic estimated breeding values. Our results indicate a high potential of genomic selection to enhance breeding for milk yield in smallholder Indian dairy farms.

Dr Roy Costilla Monteagudo

Dr Roy Costilla, is an early career statistician and computational scientist. His research is focused on statistical genetics and Bayesian models and its applications to animal and human genetics. He has published several articles in genetics, including cross-species analyses of temperament in humans and cattle. He is currently working on genomic selection models for milk yield and fertility traits in cattle in India and Australia.

Dr Roy Costilla Monteagudo, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Animal Science, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, E: r.costilla@uq.edu.au T: 0435 001129

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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.