Improving Dairy Genetics through Rural Innovation

Creating a culture of innovation at all points across the supply chain will be essential if the target of growing the Scottish food and drink sector to £30Bn by 2030 is to be achieved.

The RISS is playing a key role in enabling innovation among primary producers, and is off to a flying start – with 11 working groups currently forming around farmers with innovative projects.

The first RISS group brings together three grass-based dairy farmers in Dumfries and Galloway and South Ayrshire. Having run out of innovative ways to produce more for less in today’s volatile market, they want to harness genetics to improve the quality of their herds.

Hamish Walls from SAOS is responsible for facilitating the group, and has already recruited Professor Mike Coffey of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), who specialises in dairy cattle breeding. He will spend a possible six months identifying and ranking the cattle genetically so the data can be used to build a breeding programme. There will also be a period of testing of the IVF process. The aim is to start a breeding programme in 2019.

One farmer believes doing so could bring in as much as £200,000 extra per farm per year. It could also, he believes, reduce the time it takes to get a good cow back into the herd from five years to two.

All information on this work and progress to date can be found here