The impact of direct-maternal genetic correlations on international beef cattle evaluations for Limousin weaning weight

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Abstract

In beef cattle maternally influenced traits, estimates of direct-maternal genetic correlations (rdm) are usually reported to be negative. In international evaluations, rdm can differ both within countries (rdm_WC) and between countries (rdm_BC). The rdm_BC are difficult to estimate and are assumed to be zero in the current model for international beef cattle evaluations (Interbeef). Our objective was to investigate re-ranking of international estimated breeding values (IEBVs) in international beef cattle evaluations between models that either used estimated values for rdm or assumed them to be 0. Age-adjusted weaning weights and pedigree data were available for Limousin beef cattle from ten European countries. International EBVs were obtained using a multi-trait animal model with countries modeled as different traits. We compared IEBVs from a model that uses estimated rdm_BC (ranging between -0.14 and +0.14) and rdm_WC (between -0.33 and +0.40) with IEBVs obtained either from the current model that assumes rdm_BC to be 0, or from an alternative model that assumes both rdm_BC and rdm_WC to be 0. Direct and maternal IEBVs were compared across those three scenarios for different groups of animals. The ratio of population accuracies from the linear regression method was used to further investigate the impact of rdm on international evaluations, for both the whole set of animals in the evaluation and the domestic ones. Ignoring rdm_BC, i.e., replacing estimated values with 0, resulted in no (rank correlations > 0.99) or limited (between 0.98 and 0.99) re-ranking for direct and maternal IEBVs, respectively. Both rdm_BC and rdm_WC had less impact on direct IEBVs than on maternal IEBVs. Re-ranking of maternal IEBVs decreased with increasing reliability. Ignoring rdm_BC resulted in no re-ranking for sires with IEBVs that might be exchanged across countries and limited re-ranking for the top 100 sires. Using estimated rdm_BC values instead of considering them to be 0 resulted in null to limited increases in population accuracy. Ignoring both rdm_BC and rdm_WC resulted in considerable re-ranking of animals' IEBVs in all groups of animals evaluated. This study showed the limited impact of the current practice of ignoring rdm_BC in international evaluations for Limousin weaning weight, most likely because the estimated rdm_BC was close to 0. We expect that these conclusions can be extended to other traits that have reported rdm values in the range of rdm_WC values for weaning weight in Limousin.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskab222
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume99
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • beef cattle
  • direct-maternal genetic correlation
  • interbeef
  • international estimated breeding values
  • international genetic evaluations
  • weaning weight

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