Adding cows to the reference population makes a small dairy population competitive

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Small dairy breeds are challenged by low reliabilities of genomic prediction. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of including cows in the reference population for small dairy cattle populations with a limited number of
sires in the reference population. Using detailed simulations, 2 types of scenarios for maintaining and updating the reference population over a period of 15 yr were investigated: a turbo scheme exclusively using genotyped
young bulls and a hybrid scheme with mixed use of genotyped young bulls and progeny-tested bulls. Two types of modifications were investigated: (1) number of progeny-tested bulls per year was tested at 6 levels: 15,
40, 60, 100, 250, and 500; and (2) each year, 2,000 firstlactation cows were randomly selected from the cow population for genotyping or, alternatively, an additional 2,000 first-lactation cows were randomly selected and typed in the first 2 yr. The effects were evaluated in the 2 main breeding schemes. The breeding schemes were chosen to mimic options for the Danish Jersey cattle population. Evaluation criteria were annual monetary genetic gain, rate of inbreeding, reliability of genomic predictions, and variance of response. Inclusion of cows in the reference population increased monetary genetic
gain and decreased the rate of inbreeding. The increase in genetic gain was larger for the turbo schemes with shorter generation intervals. The variance of response was generally higher in turbo schemes than in schemes using progeny-tested bulls. However, the risk was reduced by adding cows to the reference population.The annual genetic gain and the reliability of genomic
predictions were slightly higher with more cows in the reference population. Inclusion of cows in the reference population is a rapid way to increase reliabilities of genomic predictions and hence increase genetic gain in
a small population. An economic evaluation shows that genotyping of cows is a profitable investment
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Pages (from-to)5822-5832
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

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