DairyBio is a five-year initiative established in 2016 as a major investment in dairy bioscience. The core investment proposition is to generate large-scale impacts for Australian dairy farmers through the advanced and industrial-scale application of biological sciences.
The goal of DairyBio is to improve the cost-competitiveness of the dairy industry by improving pasture productivity by $800 per hectare per year and improving animal productivity by $350 per cow per year by 2030. This scale of impact is major and will assist the dairy industry to remain strong and better handle significant challenges over the next two decades.
DairyBio focuses upon improvements in the genetics of pasture cultivars and dairy cattle, utilising bioscience capability that is recognised internationally as world-leading. In 2018 Gardiner Foundation became a formal partner in the initiative, joining Dairy Australia and Agriculture Victoria. The increased investment from Gardiner in DairyBio will bring forward outcomes of existing projects, ensure science capacity is retained and delivers ongoing value from legacy activities of the previous Gardiner investment in the Improving Herds project.
In 2018/19 many innovations were developed to the stage where assessment of their future impact is more robust and indicate DairyBio is on track to deliver the projected productivity improvements.
One of the most critical innovations is hybrid breeding, with a target of improving yields of pasture by 20%. Ongoing work has demonstrated the power of this technology with significant gains in yield obtained in commercial breeding operations and gives confidence to all investors that the project is on track to deliver its impact with new cultivars produced by 2023/24.
Based on this success and broader Australian industry requirements, additional focus has now been placed on short term ryegrass F1 development. Developments in phenotyping in the field are progressing rapidly, allowing plant performance over time to be monitored providing benefits to the forage improvement projects. Genomic selection in ryegrass is delivering a significant boost to genetic gain (3X) and is now implemented in commercial breeding programs.
Animal improvement impacts are underway, and economic analysis on farm has demonstrated that genomic technology tools already provide significant benefits and with further improvements is on track to deliver $350 per cow per year by 2030.
There has been progress in implementation of research outputs such as new traits working closely with DataGene who have introduced a modern operating environment for genetic evaluation services. Heat tolerance is now an established trait, and calving ease and gestation length traits are ready to implement.
Improvements to many established traits and breeding values have been delivered. Recent results indicate milk mid-infrared data can be used to improve breeding selections, but also predict and manage individual cow fertility. Progress on crossbreed breeding values is being made.