Bees, cows and the lifelong effect

Regarding the topic of the bee example. For a very long time, Mother Nature has given us several examples of the impact of environmental conditions in the genotype, and how that could relate afterwards with expression into the phenotype of those animals. Bee example: It’s a quite interesting example. It’s quite far from mammals and the typical examples that we would take when we talk about calf nutrition. But, it’s quite fascinating when we look into those specific species because queens and workers are genetic clones. So, the genotype is exactly the same. The only difference between the creation, I would say, of a worker bee or a queen, would be the type of food they would receive during their larva state.

So, we know that the queen is fed the royal jelly while the workers receive the worker’s food. And just that small effect on that critical stage will determine who becomes a queen and who becomes a worker. Workers are half the size of a queen and they live, I would say, approximately two to three months, while the queen can live for two years. So that’s a tremendous impact on the lifelong effect of those specific insects, just created by the type of food that they receive during larva stage. Again, we are talking about clones, so I think that’s one of the best examples that we could find in nature.

In the case of the dairy industry, it’s quite difficult for us to find such a model when we talk about mammals because we are not having clones. But, for a very long time we have been investing huge amounts of money and effort on increasing the genetic potential of our herds. And that’s something that I also mentioned during my presentation. I think there is not a single producer that questions the investment of 50 euros in a strawof semen, just to increase the genetic merit of his herd. However, most of the producers right now still question investing 30 euros more on improved nutrition of their calves. So, we have done a lot on the genetic side, but we are still very far away on the environmental side. And by environmental effects, I include nutrition, of course.

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