Sources of benefits from genetic improvement in the UK dairy industry and their impacts on producers and consumers

  • P R Amer
  • E Wall
  • J Nühs
  • M Winters
  • M P Coffey

Abstract

Bull insemination records and Interbull genetic evaluation results for a very large number of elite dairy sires used globally since 1980 were used to quantify the benefits of genetic improvement in the UK dairy industry. The aggregate benefits of genetic improvement in the UK dairy industry are estimated to have been between £2.2 billion and £2.4 billion since 1980. Importation of superior gene stocks has played a substantial role in delivering these benefits, both directly from imported semen, and from use of this semen to breed UK born bulls of high merit. While the USA has contributed a large proportion of this imported genetic gain, Interbull results suggest that bulls from many other countries were of comparable or superior genetic merit for use in the UK, and that bulls first proven in the UK have been on a par with imported bulls for a number of years. There is also an indication that foreign proven bulls used in the UK in 2008 and 2009, were superior (for use in the UK) to the active bulls available from the source country. Future dairy industry benefits from this preferential identification of foreign bulls for import in 2008 and 2009 were estimated to be £8.3 and £15.3 million respectively. The likely sharing of benefits among farmers and consumers is discussed.