Genetic testing in the dairy farming industry

Genetic testing in dairy farming is a multi-million dollar industry. There are many companies that specialize in analyzing and testing genetic markers in bulls to ensure that farmers can access the ideal bull to maximize economic production while minimizing in-breeding.

Animal breeding experts are interested in finding genome regions associated with positive genetic traits in the bulls to ensure that these traits are passed on to their female descendants. In a typical data set, more than 20 measurements of breeding value phenotypic traits are collected, resulting in a complicated data set.

Dr, Zeny Feng works with students and collaborators to develop statistical models and tests to analyze these complicated data sets. Testing each trait individually can lead to significant errors, and traditional techniques to correct for these errors are not powerful enough to be of practical use.

Dr. Feng and her group work on modern and powerful statistical tests to help provide guidance and effective analysis to the dairy farming industry. This work is ongoing and offers opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to contribute.

A dairy cow

High school students interested in developing the mathematical and statistical skills to tackle a real world problem such as this should consider our Mathematical Science Major, with an Area of Emphasis in Bioinformatics.

Prospective graduate students interested in working with Dr. Feng should visit her website, or read more about Graduate Studies at Guelph.