Prolific : Pluridisciplinary study for a RObust and sustainabLe Improvement of Fertility In Cows

Introduction

Intensive genetic selection in dairy cattle has resulted in a modern cows with very high milk yield but reduced fertility and poor calving performance. The sustainability of dairy cattle farming systems relies in large part on the ability of cows to maintain reproductive performance as they cope with the constraints imposed by environmental conditions and livestock practices. The strategic aim of this project is to unlock the potential for proactive herd management by providing the farmer with improved tools for on-farm reproductive monitoring and management. This will be achieved by a pluridisciplinary approach to eliminate the key scientific/methodological blockages and develop innovative solutions for a robust and sustainable improvement of fertility in cows. The project is structured in four R&D workpackages, one demonstration, one outreach and one management WP.

The project will:

1) develop models to support on farm decision at different levels: animal fertility, herd management, and socio-economic impact for the farm and the farmer

2) identify genes and pathways involved in the adaptation of the reproductive function to different environmental conditions, especially low input feeding systems

3) identify the functional quantitative trait nucleotides for days till first luteal activity (based on progesterone measures) and estimate genomic breeding values using whole sequence information on individuals

4) study the adaptative response of animals to different feeding systems and management strategies

5) demonstrate the applicability of the knowledge and toolsproduced in the PROLIFIC project at the farm level

6) disseminate the knowledge produced in the project to the relevant stakeholders. PROLIFIC is a pluridisciplinary project taking advantage of the skills and expertise (modelling, molecular biology, genomics, phenotypic recording and statistics) of partners from all Europe. Seven research organizations, one industry and four SMEs are involved in the project.