The reliability of genomic breeding values (DGV) decays over generations. To keep the DGV reliability at a constant level, the reference population (RP) has to be continuously updated with animals from new generations. Updating RP may be challenging due to economic reasons, especially for novel traits involving expensive phenotyping. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate a minimal RP update size to keep the reliability at a constant level across generations. We used a simulated dataset resembling a dairy cattle population. The trait of interest was not included itself in the selection index, but it was affected by selection pressure by being correlated with an index trait that represented the overall breeding goal. The heritability of the index trait was assumed to be 0.25 and for the novel trait the heritability equalled 0.2. The genetic correlation between the two traits was 0.25. The initial RP (n=2000) was composed of cows only with a single observation per animal. Reliability of DGV using the initial RP was computed by evaluating contemporary animals. Thereafter, the RP was used to evaluate animals which were one generation younger from the reference individuals. The drop in the reliability when evaluating younger animals was then assessed and the RP was updated to re-gain the initial reliability. The update animals were contemporaries of evaluated animals (EVA). The RP was updated in batches of 100 animals/update. First, the animals most closely related to the EVA were chosen to update RP. The results showed that, approximately, 600 animals were needed every generation to maintain the DGV reliability at a constant level across generations. The sum of squared relationships between RP and EVA and the sum of off-diagonal coefficients of the inverse of the genomic relationship matrix for RP, separately explained 31% and 34%, respectively, of the variation in the reliability across generations. Combined, these parameters explained 53% of the variation in the reliability across generations. Thus, for an optimal RP update an algorithm considering both relationships between reference and evaluated animals, as well as relationships among reference animals, is required.
- dairy cattle
- reference population