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Dairying in the Tropics: breed options and feeding systems

An update on breeding dairy cows with the incorporation of a major gene for heat tolerance (the "slick" gene) into a background of NZ grazing genetics.

Steve Davis, Senior Scientist Livestock Improvement Corporation

New Zealand has an interest in tropical dairying because most cows in the world live in hot climates and climate change predictions indicate that even NZ will become hotter. Therefore, it becomes an animal welfare concern to ensure that the animals being bred now can cope with climate change in the future. The NZ grazing genetics may also prove to be an opportunity for tropical production systems.

Introgression of “Slick” variant into dairy cattle will significantly improve dairy performance in hot climates.

With the discovery of the “slick” gene, there may well be a role for heat tolerant NZ genetics both at home and in tropical livestock production systems.

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