Integration of beef cattle international pedigree and genomic estimated breeding values into national evaluations, with an application to the Italian Limousin population

Renzo Bonifazi*, Mario P.L. Calus, Jan ten Napel, Roel F. Veerkamp, Stefano Biffani, Martino Cassandro, Simone Savoia, Jérémie Vandenplas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: International evaluations combine data from different countries allowing breeders to have access to larger panels of elite bulls and to increase the accuracy of estimated breeding values (EBV). However, international and national evaluations can use different sources of information to compute EBV (EBVINT and EBVNAT, respectively), leading to differences between them. Choosing one of these EBV results in losing the information that is contained only in the discarded EBV. Our objectives were to define and validate a procedure to integrate publishable sires’ EBVINT and their associated reliabilities computed from pedigree-based or single-step international beef cattle evaluations into national evaluations to obtain “blended” EBV. The Italian (ITA) pedigree-based national evaluation was used as a case study to validate the integration procedure. Methods: Publishable sires’ international information, i.e. EBVINT and their associated reliabilities, was included in the national evaluation as pseudo-records. Data were available for 444,199 individual age-adjusted weaning weights of Limousin cattle from eight countries and 17,607 genotypes from four countries (ITA excluded). To mimic differences between international and national evaluations, international evaluations included phenotypes (and genotypes) of animals born prior to January 2019, while national evaluations included ITA phenotypes of animals born until April 2019. International evaluations using all available information were considered as reference scenarios. Publishable sires were divided into three groups: sires with ≥ 15, < 15 and no recorded offspring in ITA. Results: Overall, for these three groups, integrating either pedigree-based or single-step international information into national pedigree-based evaluations improved the similarity of the blended EBV with the reference EBV compared to national evaluations without integration. For instance, the correlation with the reference EBV for direct (maternal) EBV went from 0.61 (0.79) for a national evaluation without integration to 0.97 (0.88) when integrating single-step international information, on average across all groups of publishable sires. Conclusions: Our proposed one-animal-at-a-time integration procedure yields blended EBV that are in close agreement with full international EBV for all groups of animals analysed. The procedure can be directly applied by countries since it does not rely on specific software and is computationally inexpensive, allowing straightforward integration of publishable sires’ EBVINT from pedigree-based or single-step based international beef cattle evaluations into national evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalGenetics Selection Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023


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