Submitted to: Animal Production World Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/28/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Extensive emphasis on milk and milk fat yields with no diversion for beef performance has increased the yield efficiency of North American dairy cattle. This efficiency was documented in several European studies that compared local Friesian strains with Holsteins. Heavy demand for North American genetics followed, and the U.S. and Canadian dairy populations are still an important source of genetics for many other countries as indicated by the origin of sires of bulls used in leading dairy countries. Genetic improvement has accelerated in many countries because of the implementation of sampling programs for young bulls and improved evaluation procedures; the number of young sires has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. Rapid access to information and more frequent calculation of genetic information also have a positive impact on genetic improvement. Traits other than yield should be considered in a breeding program, but those traits must have a reasonable opportunity for improvement and sufficient economic worth (for example, longer productive life or trouble- free health) to be included in selection decisions. Because of ever increasing efficiency, the world's milk supply comes from fewer cows each year. However, no decline in the rate of genetic improvement is apparent under current genetic practices; estimates of heritability are increasing, and a decline in yield efficiency is unlikely in the near future. Numerous opportunities exist for improving milk recording and initiating genetic improvement programs in countries that currently have limited selection and breeding activities. As management improves, especially for subtropical conditions, many of the selection principles used in temperate climates will be adopted for more adverse environmental conditions.