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J Dairy Sci. 2012 Apr;95(4):2097-107. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4381.

Optimum multistage genomic selection in dairy cattle.

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  • 1Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology, Research Unit Genetics and Biometry, 18196 Dummerstorf, Germany.


The availability of different single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips and the development of imputation algorithms allow for multistage dairy cattle breeding schemes applying various genomic selection strategies. These SNP genotypes yield genomically estimated breeding values (GEBV) with different accuracies at different costs. Thus, the optimum allocation of investments to different selection paths and strategies to maximize the genetic gain per year (ΔG(a)) and its sensitivity to changes in cost and accuracies of GEBV is of great interest. This is even more relevant under the constraints of limited financial resources. With deterministic methods, optimum multistage breeding plans maximizing ΔG(a) were identified in which selection could take place on GEBV derived from high-density (GEBV(HD)) and low-density (GEBV(LD)) SNP genotypes. To account for the uncertainty of cost and accuracies of GEBV, these parameters were varied in a semi-continuous manner. Overall breeding costs were limited to the crucial expenses of a traditional breeding program with 50 progeny-tested young bulls per year. Results clearly show that, in an optimal selection strategy, selection on GEBV(LD) is predominantly used for the identification of future bull dams but the main part of ΔG(a) is still generated from selection of sires. The low selection intensity in the path dam to sire induced a higher sensitivity of ΔG(a) to changes in cost and accuracies of GEBV(LD) compared with the same changes of GEBV(HD). On the contrary, the genetic gain generated from selection of males was only affected by changes in accuracies of GEBV(HD) but almost unaffected by any changes in cost. Thus, changes in cost and accuracies of GEBV(LD) put the most pressure on the breeding scheme structure to maintain a high ΔG(a). Furthermore, genomic selection of bull dams produced by far the majority of breeding cost but the lowest genetic gain.

Copyright © 2012 American Dairy Science Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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