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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Improving accuracy of bulls' predicted genomic breeding values for fertility using daughters' milk progesterone profiles

Tenghe, A. M. M.; Bouwman, A. C.; Berglund, B.; de Koning, D. J.; Veerkamp, R. F.


The main objective of this study was to investigate the benefit of accuracy of genomic prediction when combining records for an intermediate physiological phenotype in a training population with records for a traditional phenotype. Fertility was used as a case study, where commencement of luteal activity (C-LA) was the physiological phenotype, whereas the interval from calving to first service and calving interval were the traditional phenotypes. The potential accuracy of across-country genomic prediction and optimal recording strategies of C-LA were also investigated in terms of the number of farms and number of repeated records for C-LA. Predicted accuracy was obtained by estimating population parameters for the traits in a data set of 3,136 Holstein Friesian cows with 8,080 lactations and using a deterministic prediction equation. The effect of genetic correlation, heritability, and reliability of C-LA on the accuracy of genomic prediction were investigated. When the existing training population was 10,000 bulls with reliable estimated breeding value for the traditional trait, predicted accuracy for the physiological trait increased from 0.22 to 0.57 when 15,000 cows with C-LA records were added to the bull training population; but, when the interest was in predicting the traditional trait, we found no benefit from the additional recording. When the genetic correlation was higher between the physiological and traditional traits (0.7 instead of 0.3), accuracy increased less when adding the 15.000 cows with C-LA (from 0.51 to 0.63). In across-country predictions, we observed little to no increase in accuracy of the intermediate physiological phenotype when the training population from Sweden was large, but when accuracy increased the training population was small (200 cows), from 0.19 to 0.31 when 15,000 cows were added from the Netherlands (genetic correlation of 0.5 between countries), and from 0.19 to 0.48 for genetic correlation of 0.9. The predicted accuracy initially increased substantially when recording on the same farm was extended and multiple C-LA records per cow were used in prediction compared with single records; that is, accuracy increased from 0.33 with single records to 0.38 with multiple records (on average 1.6 records per cow) from 2 yr of recording C-LA. But, when the number C-LA per cow increased beyond 2 yr of recording, we noted no substantial benefit in accuracy from multiple records. For example, for 5 yr of recording (on average 2.5 records per cow), accuracy was 0.47; on doubling the recording period to 10 yr (on average 3.1 records per cow), accuracy increased by 0.07 units, whereas when C-LA was recorded for 15 yr (on average 3.3 records per cow) accuracy increased only by 0.05 units. Therefore, for genomic prediction using expensive equipment to record traits for training populations, it is important to optimize the recording strategy. The focus should be on recording more cows rather than continuous recording on the same cows.


multitrait genomic prediction; milk progesterone; dairy cattle; accuracy

Published in

Journal of Dairy Science
2018, Volume: 101, number: 6, pages: 5177-5193