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Evaluation of updated Feed Saved breeding values developed in Australian Holstein dairy cattle

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posted on 2023-03-09, 00:54 authored by S Bolormaa, Iona MacLeodIona MacLeod, Majid KhansefidMajid Khansefid, LC Marett, WJ Wales, GJ Nieuwhof, CF Baes, FS Schenkel, ME Goddard, Jennie PryceJennie Pryce
Although selection for increased milk production traits has led to a genetic increase in body weight (BW), the genetic gain in milk production has exceeded the gain in BW, so gross feed efficiency has improved. Nonetheless, greater gains may be possible by directly selecting for a measure of feed efficiency. Australia first introduced Feed Saved (FS) estimated breeding value (EBV) in 2015. Feed Saved combines residual feed intake (RFI) genomic EBV and maintenance requirements calculated from mature BW EBV. The FS EBV was designed to enable the selection of cows for reduced energy requirements with similar milk production. In this study, we used a reference population of 3,711 animals in a multivariate analysis including Australian heifers (AUSh), Australian cows (AUSc), and overseas cows (OVEc) to update the Australian EBV for lifetime RFI (i.e., a breeding value that incorporated RFI in growing and lactating cows) and to recalculate the FS EBV in Australian Holstein bulls (AUSb). The estimates of genomic heritabilities using univariate (only AUSc or AUSh) to trivariate (including the OVEc) analyses were similar. Genomic heritabilities for RFI were estimated as 0.18 for AUSc, 0.27 for OVEc, and 0.36 for AUSh. The genomic correlation for RFI between AUSc and AUSh was 0.47 and that between AUSc and OVEc was 0.94, but these estimates were associated with large standard errors (range: 0.18-0.28). The reliability of lifetime RFI (a component of FS) in the trivariate analysis (i.e., including OVEc) increased from 11% to 20% compared with the 2015 model and was greater, by 12%, than in a bivariate analysis in which the reference population included only AUSc and AUSh. By applying the prediction equation of the 2020 model, the average reliability of the FS EBV in 20,816 AUSb that were born between 2010 and 2020 improved from 33% to 43%. Previous selection strategies-that is, using the predecessor of the Balanced Performance Index (Australian Profit Ranking index) that did not include FS-have resulted in an unfavorable genetic trend in FS. However, this unfavorable trend has stabilized since 2015, when FS was included in the Balanced Performance Index, and is expected to move in a favorable direction with selection on Balanced Performance Index or the Health Weighted Index. Doubling the reference population, particularly by incorporating international data for feed efficiency, has improved the reliability of the FS EBV. This could lead to increased genetic gain for feed efficiency in the Australian industry.


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© 2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

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