Innovation Foundation and Vision

U.S. Dairy has researched and developed innovative methodologies that are now foundational and adopted in many countries.

Strong Foundation Laid by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Unique public-private collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture has provided decades of farm-focused solutions and cutting-edge research by leading geneticists. Dating back to 1895, the federal government led the adoption of milk recording, unique animal identification and early genetic analysis. Through the decades, USDA scientists were pioneers in development of genetic selection indices, the animal model, new traits, genomic evaluations and countless other methods.

Today, world-renowned scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory (AGIL) perform rigorous research to develop and test new genetic and genomic methodologies. This research supports world-class evaluations, data integrity, and implementation of new scientific learnings.

USDA geneticists established the database now maintained by CDCB – known as the National Cooperator Database. Through collaboration among many organizations and countries, this database has grown to be the world’s largest animal performance database, strengthened with sophisticated data quality assurance.

USDA maintained the U.S. database and calculated genetic evaluations for several decades. In 2013, CDCB assumed full responsibility to maintain the national cooperator database, compute results and distribute genomic and genetic evaluations.

Growth in CDCB Research

CDCB has grown its in-house R&D capacity, in alignment with priorities set by the Board of Directors, which represents the cooperating U.S. dairy sectors. The CDCB team includes 12 PhD researchers and administrators, trained in genetics, data analytics and veterinary science. In the recent decade, this in-house team – in cooperation with USDA AGIL – has researched, developed and implemented several new traits and methods for genetic and genomic evaluations.

  • Breed Base Representation
  • Genomic evaluations for crossbred animals
  • Disease resistance traits
  • Feed efficiency evaluations

U.S. dairy is experienced and advanced when measuring and tracking large amounts of animal data. Not-for-profit organizations with a high level of farmer involvement are responsible for managing animal identification data, editing and aggregating data, and calculating U.S. genetic evaluations.

Collaborative R&D Efforts

CDCB and collaborating scientists at several U.S. universities have diverse research projects underway – ranging from the development of a data pipeline for hoof health, expansion of feed efficiency data, investigation of new traits and adoption of single-step genomic methodology.

CDCB is a founding member of the Greener Cattle Initiative, a consortium formed in 2021 that funds research to develop solutions for beef and dairy cattle producers to mitigate enteric methane emissions and support climate action.