Feed Utilization in Nordic Cattle (FUNC)

The program Feed Utilization in Nordic Cattle (FUNC) is a joint effort between the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) in practically oriented research with the aim of improving the utilization of feed resources in Nordic cattle populations.

The FUNC project will integrate and harmonize at the highest possible level expertise and resources across the Nordic countries to increase the efficiency and decrease the environmental footprint of dairy production, significantly advancing progress in this sector.

The project will exploit the opportunity to combine historical and future measures of intake, milk production, diet digestibility and enteric greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to understand the nature of variation in feed efficiency and environmental impact.

This information will be used firstly to establish the influence of animal genetics on these parameters and secondly to provide the basis for future selection of more efficient animals.

New methods will be developed to measure feed efficiency, methane and nitrogen emissions of individual cows on-farm leading to the generation of new indicator traits and tools for use in both classical and genomic selection schemes.

Research will also focus on developing diets that lower energy losses as methane, whilst at the same time examining strategies for improving the efficiency of nutrient use that will also lower the incidence of metabolic diseases and increase fertility.

These advances will contribute to the overall goal of increasing the conversion of feed resources into milk over the lifetime of dairy cows. Modelling of inputs and outputs will be used to define the impact of both nutritional and genetic improvements in feed efficiency on-farm, both in terms of environmental footprint and profitability of milk production enterprises.

Results will be made available to the dairy industries allowing these benefits to be realized in practice.