Genetics in the dairy industry are making big strides. Project leaders Lauren Brey and Dr. Dan Weigel share about a collaborative project between Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Farmers for Sustainable Food, Zoetis, and 8 aligned farms, showed how focusing on genetic improvement correlates to not only lifetime profitability but reductions in methane intensity, antibiotic usage and feed use on the farm. Dairy Stream host Joanna Guza dives into the topics below with Lauren and Dan:
- 1:50: How the project got started
- 2:43: How the farms were selected
- 5:04: Dairy Wellness Profit Index and how it was used
- 7:55: Process of collecting and analyzing the data
- 9:40: The study had 43 percent reduction in antibiotic usage
- 13:38: The study had 23 percent reduction in the number of replacement heifers
- 15:00: The study had 15.8 metrics tons of methane reduced per 1,000-cow herd
- 16:48: The study had a decrease in feed used
- 19:52: If farms want to participate, what is the timeline and ROI
- 22:51: How does the research impact the future of sustainable food
- 25:00: What’s next for the future of research and genetics
Special thanks to Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative for sponsoring this episode.
About the guests
- Lauren Brey
Lauren is the director of strategic partnerships and sustainability for the Dairy Business Association (DBA) and Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. In this role, she serves as managing director of Farmers for Sustainable Food (FSF) and directs their support of farmer-led conservation groups and sustainability projects. Brey is also responsible for fostering relationships with other organizations to bring more value and resources to the members of DBA and Edge. She previously served as the director of marketing and research and worked as a scientist for a cheese company prior to DBA, Edge and FSF.
- Dr. Dan Weigel
Dan grew up in Iowa on the family farm (Weigeline Holsteins) and graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Dairy Science. He received both his MS and PhD from Virginia Tech, with his dissertation focusing on the prediction of genetic merit for lifetime profitability in Holsteins. Before joining the R&D group of Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health) in 1995, Dr. Weigel served as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Guelph working on the implementation of Multiple Across Country Evaluations (MACE) for conformation traits of Holstein sires. Dr. Weigel’s current role with Zoetis is in Outcomes Research and he also remains active as a breeder of dairy cattle.