EnviroCow: Reducing feed costs and GHG emission in smallholder dairy cattle in SSA

EnviroCow: Reducing feed costs and GHG emission in smallholder dairy cattle in SSA

The EnviroCow: Reducing feed costs and GHG emission in smallholder dairy cattle in SSA project will provide small-scale dairy farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with access to feed efficient and well-adapted cows to increase their income.

This three year partnership is between Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), U.K and ILRI. It will achieve its purpose of improving feed mitigation to climate change, increasing farmer productivity and income as well as improving access to nutritious food by enabling the selection of new generations of dairy cattle with higher feed efficiencies and resilience to climatic stressors.

For this, the project will develop phenotyping tools as well as genetic selection tools for novel animal traits:

  • methane emission intensity
  • feed requirements for maintenance
  • feed requirements for milk production
  • survival rate at young age
  • stability of milk production


The project's objectives:

1)    To investigate the combined use of the LMD and milk MIR to derive predictive equations as a simple and inexpensive approach to measure CH4 emissions at the individual animal level for the purposes of genetic evaluations and selection to reduce CH4 emission. In addition, examine improvements in the predictive equations using additional traits such as body weight, fat and protein percentages as indirect predictors of CH4.

2)    Examine the use of body weight and/or indirect predictors of body weight (stature, chest width and body depth) to improve feed required for maintenance (feed saved for maintenance) and to reduce CH4 emission, resulting in corresponding improvement in efficiency of productivity and hence promote food security.

3)    To investigate the variation between different breeds or animals of different breed composition for climate resilience traits such as THI, LnVar and calf survival with the aim of selecting for more productive and resilient animals. 

4)    Examine management strategies in terms of feed types fed at the farm level to enhance livestock productivity, adaptability to climate change and resource use efficiency.

5)    To develop a selection index for the smallholder dairy system using results from the above objectives, resulting in a cow with less impact on the environment, better feed utilization, enabling it to become more productive and efficient--aka The smallholder Enviro-dairy cow.


The project has strong links with ADGG and CTLGH, as the phenotyping for new traits will be done on subsets of animals in these programs. 


Raphael Mrode

Raphael Mrode

Principal Scientist