Multi-breed genomic evaluation

Multibreed geno






Genomic selection has been described as a technology that is capable of revolutionising animal breeding and is now the method of choice for most dairy genetic evaluations worldwide. However, to date the application of genomic selection in Ireland has been limited to the Holstein-Friesian dairy population. In Finland genomic selection has been applied to both Holstein and the Nordic Red breeds. However, results from the Nordic Red breed are not as promising as from the Holstein breed mainly due to synthetic nature of the Nordic Red breed. In genomic selection young breeding animals are selected based on so called genomic breeding values that are calculated using DNA information on the candidates rather than on the traditional method based on the candidate´s own record or records of the offspring. Genomic selection increases yearly genetic response in cattle breeding as young animals can be selected based on their own DNA with the same accuracy than based on 50 offspring records. The result is an increase in the accuracy of an animal’s proof and a reduction in the generation interval. To date the size of the reference population used to estimate genomic effects has remained small especially in beef, sheep and pig breeds and in some dairy breeds. However, if multi-breed genomic selection were available this could increase the size of the existing reference population which in turn would lead to more accurate proofs and thereby increase farmers confidence within the genetic evaluations both in Ireland and Finland. Research into multi-breed genomic evaluations will ensure that both Ireland and Finland remain at the forefront of this rapidly evolving industry. Therefore the development of multi-breed genomic evaluations is a key area for the further development of genomic selection technologies. The objectives of this project are two-fold: 1) to identify models that allow for better utilisation of longitudinal data such as animal live-weigh in the genetic evaluations for beef, sheep and dairy (Teagasc + Luke) and 2) to develop multi-breed genomic evaluation for the implementation into the national genetic evaluations (Luke+ Teagasc). This project is a joint collaboration in conjunction with Luke, Finland, the University of Helsinki and the ICBF. Results from this project are expected to increase the rates of genetic gain, create more reliable breeding values and increase the accuracy of an animal’s proof across the beef, sheep, pig and dairy sectors.