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Breeding for robust cows that produce healthier milk: RobustMilk

  • R. F. Veerkamp (a1), L. Kaal (a1), Y. de Haas (a1) and J. D. Oldham (a2)


For centuries, animal breeders have very effectively been selecting livestock species, making use of the natural variation that exists within the population. As part of the developments towards broader breeding goals, the RobustMilk project was designed to develop new practical technologies to allow breeders to re-focus their selection to include milk quality and dairy cow robustness and to evaluate the consequences of selection for these traits taking cognisance of various milk production systems. Here we introduce the background to robustness, the value of expanding milk quality analysis (including the possibility of using milk quality characteristics as proxy measures for robustness traits), interactions between robustness and milk quality traits and the need for different breeding tools to enable delivery of these concepts to the industry. Developing a database with phenotypes from research herds across Europe, phenotyping tools using mid-infrared red spectroscopic analysis of milk, and the development of statistical and genomic tools for robustness and milk quality formed the core of the project. In the following papers you will read the outcomes and developments that happened during the project.

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