The effect that the overall use and integration of automated on-farm recording systems has on breeding programs, must be viewed at two levels. First, as management practices change (due to increased automation) the environment ultimately changes as well, redefining the animal that will best adapt to this new management system. This has implications for conformation, temperament, milking speed, etc. as well as many new traits that will become increasingly important as the environment, in which the animals are expected to perform, continues to evolve. Secondly, and in the shorter term, the existence of these automated recording systems has important implications for the current systems of breeding goals and, specifically, the estimation of genetic parameters and individual breeding values in terms of availability, compatibility and accuracy of the resulting data. Challenges include the incorporation of these data into milk recording and, subsequently, genetic evaluations due to a frequent lack of any standard interface to facilitate automatic data transfer. Failure to solve this aspect could lead to a two-tier system of on-farm management with those who rely on local systems and software, and those who continue to participate I national milk-recording programs. Decision-support systems and other management information software will be the beneficiaries of many of these on-farm recording systems but they may also be required in order to facilitate producers as they come to terms with the huge increase in data for potential analysis. Machine-learning software may be helpful in mimicking expert analysis, while data visualization packages may be useful in identifying outliers or areas that need special attention. Future large-scale adoption of automatic on-line sensor systems may render visits by milk samplers redundant but only if information and communications technology advance at an equal pace to ensure upload to the processing agencies. Such an eventuality also assumes that the cost-benefit of such systems becomes more reasonable.

K. M Wade

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume , , 01.29, 2006
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