Morten Kargo

Genomic testing interacts with reproductive surplus in reducing genetic lag and increasing economic net return

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Until now, genomic information has mainly been used to improve the accuracy of genomic breeding values for breeding animals at a population level. However,
we hypothesize that the use of information from genotyped females also opens up the possibility of reducing genetic lag in a dairy herd, especially if genomic
tests are used in combination with sexed semen or a high management level for reproductive performance, because both factors provide the opportunity for generating a reproductive surplus in the herd. In this study, sexed semen is used in combination with beef semen to produce high-value crossbred beef calves. Thus, on average there is no surplus of and selection among replacement
heifers whether to go into the herd or to be sold. In this situation, the selection opportunities arise when deciding which cows to inseminate with sexed semen, conventional semen, or beef semen. We tested the hypothesis by combining the results of 2 stochastic simulation programs, SimHerd and ADAM. SimHerd
estimates the economic effect of different strategies for use of sexed semen and beef semen at 3 levels of reproductive performance in a dairy herd. Besides simulating the operational return, SimHerd also simulates the
parity distribution of the dams of heifer calves. The ADAM program estimates genetic merit per year in a herd under different strategies for use of sexed semen
and genomic tests. The annual net return per slot was calculated as the sum of operational return and value of genetic lag minus costs of genomic tests divided by the total number of slots. Our results showed that the use of genomic tests for decision making decreases genetic lag by as much as 0.14 genetic standard deviation units of the breeding goal and that genetic lag decreases even
more (up to 0.30 genetic standard deviation units) when genomic tests are used in combination with strategies for increasing and using a reproductive surplus.
Thus, our hypothesis was supported. We also observed that genomic tests are used most efficiently to decrease genetic lag when the genomic information is used more than once in the lifetime of an animal and when as many selection decisions as possible are based on genomic information. However, all breakeven prices were lower than or equal to €50, which is the current price of low-density chip genotyping in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, so in the vast majority of cases, it is not profitable to genotype routinely for management purposes
under the present price assumptions
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)646–658
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

    Research areas

  • dairy herd management , genomic selection, modeling, sexed semen

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