Genomic selection for any dairy breeding program via optimized investment in phenotyping and genotyping

Jana Obšteter, Janez Jenko, Gregor Gorjanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper evaluates the potential of maximizing genetic gain in dairy cattle breeding by optimizing investment into phenotyping and genotyping. Conventional breeding focuses on phenotyping selection candidates or their close relatives to maximize selection accuracy for breeders and quality assurance for producers. Genomic selection decoupled phenotyping and selection and through this increased genetic gain per year compared to the conventional selection. Although genomic selection is established in well-resourced breeding programs, small populations and developing countries still struggle with the implementation. The main issues include the lack of training animals and lack of financial resources. To address this, we simulated a case-study of a small dairy population with a number of scenarios with equal available resources yet varied use of resources for phenotyping and genotyping. The conventional progeny testing scenario had 11 phenotypic records per lactation. In genomic selection scenarios, we reduced phenotyping to between 10 and 1 phenotypic records per lactation and invested the saved resources into genotyping. We tested these scenarios at different relative prices of phenotyping to genotyping and with or without an initial training population for genomic selection. Reallocating a part of phenotyping resources for repeated milk records to genotyping increased genetic gain compared to the conventional selection scenario regardless of the amount and relative cost of phenotyping, and the availability of an initial training population. Genetic gain increased by increasing genotyping, despite reduced phenotyping. High‑genotyping scenarios even saved resources. Genomic selection scenarios expectedly increased accuracy for young non‑phenotyped candidate males and females, but also proven females. This study shows that breeding programs should optimize investment into phenotyping and genotyping to maximise return on investment. Our results suggest that any dairy breeding program using conventional progeny testing with repeated milk records can implement genomic selection without increasing the level of investment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Early online date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2021


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