The low heritability of traditional measures of fertility means that more information on the animal’s genetic makeup is required to make breeding decisions as accurate as those for higher heritability traits. This additional information may include performance records on the animal itself or its relatives, or may include genomic information. Genomic selection is a relatively new approach that utilises information on the DNA fingerprint of an animal to predict its genetic merit. Genetic gain achievable, based on simulation studies and the prevailing technologies, is reported to be 50 and 100% greater with genomic selection compared to traditional breeding programs using progeny testing. The main benefit from genomic selection comes from making it possible to select young animals, without own records, while maintaining a high accuracy. This is particularly beneficial for low heritability traits like fertility. The increase in accuracy of genetic merit is largely determined by the number of animals used to estimate the DNA fingerprint associated with differences in genetic merit. The usefulness of reproductive technologies in further augmenting the genetic gain achievable also needs to be considered. However, of utmost importance, is that the breeding goal implemented reflects future production systems and that more phenotypes are collected to ensure no deleterious repercussions of more rapid genetic gain.
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