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Biodiversity within and between European Red dairy breeds – conservation through utilization

Challenge - European Red Dairy Breeds (ERDB) represent a unique source of genetic diversity. They are partly organized in trans-national breeding programs, but are also well adapted to local conditions providing regional identity of products for consumers. Despite their unique properties, they are increasingly being replaced by Holstein cows, and animal genetic diversity has been declining at an alarming rate.

Objectives - The aim is to conserve and utilize the unique biodiversity of ERDB via improved genetic management together with acceleration of genetic gain for key dairy traits.

Expected results - Collaborative and integrated novel breeding and management concepts will be developed to achieve a resilient and competitive use of these resources. Best practices for small farm holders will be strengthened to improve product quality and supply ecosystem services according to their specific circumstances. Large scale genomic and proteomic tools will be implemented to enhance genetic progress and to characterize specific properties. Innovative surveys will assess the impact of the sector on social acceptance and the needs of farmers.

Potential Impact - The project will generate novel knowledge and concepts that will be disseminated to lead-users such as the breeding and dairy industry, food sector, farmer cooperatives and farmers. The trade-off between economic, environmental and social interests will ensure sustainable dairy production, improve animal welfare and help to develop rural landscape.

Coordinated by: Prof. Dirk Hinrichs / Prof. Georg Thaller - Kiel University (GERMANY) - Contact

Funded by:  BMEL, DAFA, VIAA, Moa ZUM, CRV BV, NWO, RCN, NCBR, Formas and Swedisch University of Agricultural Science as part of the ERA-NET Cofund SusAn through a virtual common pot model including EU Top-Up funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 696231).

12 research partners:

  • DENMARK: Aarhus University
  • GERMANY: Rinderzucht Schleswig-Holstein eG and University Hohenheim
  • LATVIA: Animal Breeders Association of Latvia
  • LITHUANIA: Lithuanian University of Health Sciences and The Lithuanian Red Cattle Improvement Association
  • THE NETHERLANDS: CRV BV and Wageningen UR Livestock Research
  • NORWAY: Norwegian University of Life Sciences
  • POLAND: Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences
  • SWEDEN: VikingGenetics and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

More information

This project has been funded by BMEL, DAFA, VIAA, MoA ZUM, NWO, RCN, NCBR and FORMAS as a part of the ERA-Net Cofund SusAn (grantnr 696231) through a virtual common pot model with EU top-up.