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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: The National Dairy Genetic Evaluation Program


2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
To maintain a high standard of integrity in data collection systems providing data for the National Dairy Genetic Evaluation Program (GEP) database; to provide data to AIPL for use in research and education, including the development of effective procedures for estimating the genetic merit of dairy animals; to provide data and summaries of information to research and extension personnel, and to others for educational purposes as appropriate; to improve the genetic merit and production efficiency of U.S. dairy cattle; and to enhance the world market competitiveness of the U.S. dairy industry.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
It will be the responsibility of both parties to ensure the integrity of the data submitted by the Cooperators for inclusion in the GEP datatbase and to maintain the credibility of the GEP by establishing quality standards for data submitted to the GEP.

3. Progress Report
This project is related to in-house objectives 1 (collect genotypes and new phenotypes to improve accuracy and comprehensiveness of national dairy database), 2 (characterize phenotypic measures of dairy practices; provide industry with information for determining impact of herd management decisions on profitability), 3 (improve accuracy of prediction of economically important traits currently evaluated; determine merit and potential for developing genetic predictions for new traits; investigate methods to incorporate high-density genomic data), and 4 (investigate economic value of traits to combine evaluations most efficiently to select for healthy animals capable of producing quality milk at low cost in many environments). Enhancements to the national database included 1) genotypes and genomic evaluations based on a low-density marker panel, 2) genotypes based on a high-density marker panel, and 3) Holstein genotypes from Italy and the United Kingdom. Data were provided by processing centers (yield, health, pedigree, reproduction), breed registries (pedigree, genotype), and artificial-insemination organizations (pedigree, reproduction, genotype). Information available through the Laboratory web site in January, April, and August 2011 included 1) official genetic evaluations for yield, conformation, and fitness traits and economic indexes for almost 20 million U.S. dairy cattle, 2) multinational bull evaluations and conversion formulas, 3) updated graphic displays of phenotypic and genetic trends for yield and fitness traits, and 4) bull fertility rankings. Also available through the web site were triannual interim evaluations for progeny-test bulls and genetic evaluations for yield (semiannual) and conformation (annual) for U.S. dairy goats. Genomic evaluations were distributed monthly to industry cooperators. Calving-ease and stillbirth evaluations for bulls were released triannually to the National Association of Animal Breeders for distribution; conformation evaluations for breeds other than Holstein also were released triannually to appropriate associations for distribution. Test-herd data continued to be used to compare procedural differences among processing centers. Scientific manuscripts (8), book chapters (2), scientific abstracts (18), conference presentations (10), technical reports (5), and popular press articles (27) related to the National Dairy Genetic Evaluation Program were published. A Dairy Data Working Group has been established by the Cooperator to ensure the long-term future of genetic evaluation and analysis of U.S. herd management information by developing a cooperative agreement that allows ARS scientists to concentrate on research and removes them from any service commitment that accompanies running the National Genetic Evaluation Program. Monitoring activities included participation by ARS scientists and information technology staff in two Cooperator meetings with dairy industry representatives as well as e-mail and phone calls.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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