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Leading the charge in the fight against Bovine TB

A partnership forged between CIEL and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is set to take the dairy industry a step closer to eradicating Bovine TB (bTB).

Supported by £360,000 funding from Innovate UK, around 10,000 dairy cows and 5oo bulls will be genotyped, informing the development of a state-of-the-art genomic prediction tool. The data collected will deliver the accuracy needed for the new tool – TB Advantage – to be commercially viable.

TB Advantage, being developed by the EGENES team at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), will be a single step genomic evaluation system that makes optimal use of cow pedigree, TB test scores, abbatoir diagnoses and rich DNA dataset.

This will enable farmers to identify natural resistance traits and make informed decisions about which cattle they choose to breed, depending on their resistance to bTB.

The project builds on AHDB research which identified significant genetic variations between resistant and non-resistant dairy cattle.

Combatting bTB is a national priority, manifested by the £100 million spent annually on disease surveillance, monitoring and non-genetic control. If accuracies of genomic predictions were improved, genetic improvement could contribute to a long term reduction of this figure by reducing both infected and infectious animals on farm.

The additional funding leveraged through CIEL from Innovate UK will allow a far greater number of cattle to be included in the data asset, ensuring greater accuracy when the improved genomic prediction tool is put into practice.

This project has game-changing potential for the dairy industry and is a further demonstration of how the industry is actively using genetics, as part of wider industry initiatives, toward a sustainable livestock sector.

Marco Winters, Head of Animal Genetics for AHDB Dairy

Developing TB Advantage builds on capability at SRUC EGENES, co-funded by CIEL, and paves the way for a similar approach to be used for other traits in the future.