Use of genotype × environment interaction model to accommodate genetic heterogeneity for residual feed intake, dry matter intake, net energy in milk, and metabolic body weight in dairy cattle

C. Yao*, G. de los Campos, M.J. VandeHaar, D.M. Spurlock, L.E. Armentano, M. Coffey, Y. de Haas, R.F. Veerkamp, C.R. Staples, E.E. Connor, Z. Wang, M.D. Hanigan, R.J. Tempelman, K.A. Weigel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Feed efficiency in dairy cattle has gained much attention recently. Due to the cost-prohibitive measurement of individual feed intakes, combining data from multiple countries is often necessary to ensure an adequate reference population. It may then be essential to model genetic heterogeneity when making inferences about feed efficiency or selecting efficient cattle using genomic information. In this study, we constructed a marker × environment interaction model that decomposed marker effects into main effects and interaction components that were specific to each environment. We compared environment-specific variance component estimates and prediction accuracies from the interaction model analyses, an across-environment analyses ignoring population stratification, and a within-environment analyses using an international feed efficiency data set. Phenotypes included residual feed intake, dry matter intake, net energy in milk, and metabolic body weight from 3,656 cows measured in 3 broadly defined environments: North America (NAM), the Netherlands (NLD), and Scotland (SAC). Genotypic data included 57,574 single nucleotide polymorphisms per animal. The interaction model gave the highest prediction accuracy for metabolic body weight, which had the largest estimated heritabilities ranging from 0.37 to 0.55. The within-environment model performed the best when predicting residual feed intake, which had the lowest estimated heritabilities ranging from 0.13 to 0.41. For traits (dry matter intake and net energy in milk) with intermediate estimated heritabilities (0.21 to 0.50 and 0.17 to 0.53, respectively), performance of the 3 models was comparable. Genomic correlations between environments also were computed using variance component estimates from the interaction model. Averaged across all traits, genomic correlations were highest between NAM and NLD, and lowest between NAM and SAC. In conclusion, the interaction model provided a novel way to evaluate traits measured in multiple environments in which genetic heterogeneity may exist. This model allowed estimation of environment-specific parameters and provided genomic predictions that approached or exceeded the accuracy of competing within- or across-environment models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2007-2016
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • Feed efficiency
  • Genomic selection
  • Interaction model

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