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J Dairy Sci. 2011 Aug;94(8):4198-204. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4256.

Multiple-trait genomic evaluation of linear type traits using genomic and phenotypic data in US Holsteins.

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Animal and Dairy Science Department, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Currently, the USDA uses a single-trait (ST) model with several intermediate steps to obtain genomic evaluations for US Holsteins. In this study, genomic evaluations for 18 linear type traits were obtained with a multiple-trait (MT) model using a unified single-step procedure. The phenotypic type data on up to 18 traits were available for 4,813,726 Holsteins, and single nucleotide polymorphism markers from the Illumina BovineSNP50 genotyping Beadchip (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA) were available on 17,293 bulls. Genomic predictions were computed with several genomic relationship matrices (G) that assumed different allele frequencies: equal, base, current, and current scaled. Computations were carried out with ST and MT models. Procedures were compared by coefficients of determination (R(2)) and regression of 2004 prediction of bulls with no daughters in 2004 on daughter deviations of those bulls in 2009. Predictions for 2004 also included parent averages without the use of genomic information. The R(2) for parent averages ranged from 10 to 34% for ST models and from 12 to 35% for MT models. The average R(2) for all G were 34 and 37% for ST and MT models, respectively. All of the regression coefficients were <1.0, indicating that estimated breeding values in 2009 of 1,307 genotyped young bulls' parents tended to be biased. The average regression coefficients ranged from 0.74 to 0.79 and from 0.75 to 0.80 for ST and MT models, respectively. When the weight for the inverse of the numerator relationship matrix (A(-1)) for genotyped animals was reduced from 1 to 0.7, R(2) remained almost identical while the regression coefficients increased by 0.11-0.26 and 0.12-0.23 for ST and MT models, respectively. The ST models required about 5s per iteration, whereas MT models required 3 (6) min per iteration for the regular (genomic) model. The MT single-step approach is feasible for 18 linear type traits in US Holstein cattle. Accuracy for genomic evaluation increases when switching ST models to MT models. Inflation of genomic evaluations for young bulls could be reduced by choosing a small weight for the A(-1) for genotyped bulls.

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