The value of milk in New Zealand can be improved by altering its composition by genetic means (crossbreeding, selection, and biotechnology). Breed changes and crossbreeding influence the value of milk, but the choice of breed is usually dominated by attributes other than milk composition. Responses to within-breed selection are influenced by the emphasis placed on milk components relative to other animal attributes. The relative economic emphasis among the traits in the objective, and the genetic and environmental relationships between measured performance attributes will influence the rate of progress in milk quality, milk value and farm profit. Transgenic modification of the bovine genome offers the possibility of quantum shifts in milk characteristics but requires further research, education and testing in order to gain consumer acceptance. The manufacture of high-value dairy products for specific markets will likely require the segregation of milks from different farms. The long-term nature of genetic improvement dictates that today`s vision shared by producers, processors and AB companies must be in concert with future needs of consumers if real opportunities are to be realised.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 62, Palmerston North, 90-94, 2002
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