Selection for pure- and crossbred performance in Charolais

Amélie Vallée-Dassonneville

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Two categories of beef production exist; i.e. (i) purebred animals from a beef sire and a beef dam and (ii) crossbred animals from a beef sire and a dairy dam.

For the purebred beef production, there is a growing interest to include behavior and type traits in the breeding goal. Heritabilities for behavior traits, estimated using subjective data scored by farmers, range from 0.02 to 0.19. Heritabilities for type traits range from 0.02 to 0.35. Results show that there are good opportunities to implement selection for behavior traits using a simple on-farm recording system to allow collection of large data set, and for type traits in Charolais. A genome-wide association study detected 16 genomic regions with small effect on behavior and type traits. This suggests that behavior and type traits are influenced by many genes each explaining a small part of the genetic variance.

The two main dairy breeds mated to Charolais sires for crossbred beef production in France are Montbéliard and Holstein. The genetic correlation between the same trait measured on Montbéliard x Charolais and on Holstein x Charolais was 0.99 for muscular development, 0.96 for birth weight; and 0.91 for calving difficulty, 0.80 for height, and 0.70 for bone thinness. Thus, for these last three traits, results show evidence for re-ranking of Charolais sires depending on whether they are mated to Montbéliard or Holstein cows. When using genomic prediction, the Montbéliard x Charolais and Holstein x Charolais populations could be combined into a single reference population to increase size and accuracy of genomic prediction. Results indicate that the higher the genetic correlation is between the two crossbred populations, the higher the gain in accuracy is achieved when combining the two populations into a single reference.

The selection of Charolais sires to produce purebred or crossbred animals is made through distinct breeding programs. An alternative could be to combine selection into one breeding program. Decision for combining or keeping breeding programs separate is determined by the correlation between the breeding objectives, the selection intensity, the difference in level of genetic merit, the accuracy of selection, and the recent implementation of genomic evaluation. Considering all parameters and based on estimations for selection on birth weight, I recommend combining both breeding programs because this will lead to higher genetic gain, and might simplify operating organization and reduce associated costs.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • van Arendonk, Johan, Promotor
  • Bovenhuis, Henk, Promotor
Award date13 Feb 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789463430180
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • charolais
  • cattle
  • animal breeding
  • crossbreeding
  • crossbreds
  • selection
  • beef cattle
  • genomes
  • genetic parameters

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