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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Carbon footprint based on lifetime productivity for future cows selected for resilience to climate-related disturbances

Zira, S.; Bouquet, A.; Rydhmer, L.; Kargo, M.; Puillet, L.


Droughts, which can affect feed production, are projected to become more common under future climate conditions. In light of this, breeding cattle resilient to changes in feeding regimens is increasingly becoming an important topic. Body reserves can play a crucial role when feed resources are limited. We simulated populations of dairy cows selected with 2 different breeding goals: one reflecting the current breeding goal and the other placing weight on minimum level of body reserves in early lactation and change in body reserves during lactation. We considered this latter as a breeding goal for resilience. We used the 2 dynamic simulation programs ADAM and AQAL to predict performance of the cows after selection. In AQAL, we modeled moderate and severe drought by decreasing feed quality and quantity offered to cows during one year. We compared cows selected with the 2 breeding goals under 3 environments: without disturbances related to climate and with moderate and severe drought. In the environments without disturbances and the moderate drought, the cows selected with the current breeding goal had higher lifetime lactation efficiency (energy invested in milk/ energy acquired from feed) and lower carbon footprint per kilogram of protein in milk and meat than cows selected for resilience. However, with severe drought, cows selected for resilience had higher lifetime lactation efficiency and lower carbon footprint per kilogram of protein in milk and meat than those selected with the current breeding goal. This suggests that cows selected for high productive performance do not perform well under very limiting conditions, leading to increased climate impact. The importance of inclusion of body reserves as a resilience trait in dairy cattle breeding depends on the future environment in which the cows will be used.


dairy cows; body reserves; drought; breeding goal; simulation

Published in

Journal of science. Advanced materials and devices
2023, Volume: 106, number: 12, pages: 8953-8968