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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: The National Dairy Genetic Evaluation Program


2012 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) addition of genotypes and genomic evaluations based on two new low-density marker panels, 2) maternal grandsire detection and discovery, 3) adjustments to genomic evaluations and reliabilities to improve accuracy, and 4) more precise measurement of sire, heifer, and cow conception rates based on latest herd test date. 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 December, April, and August 2012 included 1) official genetic evaluations for yield, conformation, and fitness traits and economic indexes for almost 20 million U.S. dairy cattle and goats, 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 animal documentation for five recessive defects for dairy cattle fertility discovered by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory in 200,000 genotyped animals, 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 (16), scientific abstracts (19), conference proceeding articles (5), technical reports (6), and popular press articles (35) were published related to the National Dairy Genetic Evaluation Program. The Cooperator and ARS have developed a draft cooperative agreement that allows ARS scientists to concentrate on research and removes them from any previous service commitments associated with running the National Genetic Evaluation Program; that draft agreement was released to the dairy industry for comment.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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