Predicted accuracy of and response to genomic selection for new traits in dairy cattle

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Abstract

Genomic selection relaxes the requirement of traditional selection tools to have phenotypic measurements on close relatives of all selection candidates. This opens up possibilities to select for traits that are difficult or expensive to measure. The objectives of this paper were to predict accuracy of and response to genomic selection for a new trait, considering that only a cow reference population of moderate size was available for the new trait, and that selection simultaneously targeted an index and this new trait. Accuracy for and response to selection were deterministically evaluated for three different breeding goals. Single trait selection for the new trait based only on a limited cow reference population of up to 10 000 cows, showed that maximum genetic responses of 0.20 and 0.28 genetic standard deviation (s.d.) per year can be achieved for traits with a heritability of 0.05 and 0.30, respectively. Adding information from the index based on a reference population of 5000 bulls, and assuming a genetic correlation of 0.5, increased genetic response for both heritability levels by up to 0.14 genetic s.d. per year. The scenario with simultaneous selection for the new trait and the index, yielded a substantially lower response for the new trait, especially when the genetic correlation with the index was negative. Despite the lower response for the index, whenever the new trait had considerable economic value, including the cow reference population considerably improved the genetic response for the new trait. For scenarios with a zero or negative genetic correlation with the index and equal economic value for the index and the new trait, a reference population of 2000 cows increased genetic response for the new trait with at least 0.10 and 0.20 genetic s.d. per year, for heritability levels of 0.05 and 0.30, respectively. We conclude that for new traits with a very small or positive genetic correlation with the index, and a high positive economic value, considerable genetic response can already be achieved based on a cow reference population with only 2000 records, even when the reliability of individual genomic breeding values is much lower than currently accepted in dairy cattle breeding programs. New traits may generally have a negative genetic correlation with the index and a small positive economic value. For such new traits, cow reference populations of at least 10 000 cows may be required to achieve acceptable levels of genetic response for the new trait and for the whole breeding goal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
JournalAnimal
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • genetic-relationship information
  • breeding programs
  • holstein cattle
  • energy-balance
  • strategies
  • emissions
  • progress
  • schemes
  • designs
  • impact

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