Genomic evaluation of Brown Swiss dairy cattle with limited national genotype data and integrated external information.


Luštrek B(1), Vandenplas J(2), Gorjanc G(3), Potočnik K(4).
Author information:
(1)Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)Animal Breeding and Genomics, Wageningen University and Research, 6700 AH, Wageningen, the Netherlands.
(3)The Roslin Institute and Royal
(Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, Scotland, United Kingdom; Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
(4)Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


This study demonstrated the feasibility of a genomic evaluation for the dairy cattle population for which the small national training population can be complemented with foreign information from international evaluations. National test-day milk yield data records for the Slovenian Brown Swiss cattle population were analyzed. Genomic evaluation was carried out using the single-step genomic best linear unbiased prediction method (ssGBLUP), resulting in genomic estimated breeding values (GEBV). The predominantly female group of genotyped animals, representing the national training population in the single-step genomic evaluation, was further augmented with 7,024 genotypes of foreign progeny-tested sires from an international Brown Swiss InterGenomics genomic evaluation ( Additionally, the estimated breeding values for the altogether 7,246 genotyped domestic and foreign sires from the 2019 sire multiple across-country evaluation (MACE), were added to the ssGBLUP as external pseudophenotypic information. The ssGBLUP method, with integration of MACE information by avoiding double counting, was then performed, resulting in MACE-enhanced GEBV (GEBVM). The methods were empirically validated with forward prediction. The validation group consisted of 315 domestic males and 1,041 domestic females born after 2012. Increase, inflation, and bias of the GEBV(M) reliability (REL) were assessed for the validation group with a focus on females. All individuals in the validation benefited from genomic evaluations using both methods, but the GEBV(M) REL increased most for the youngest selection candidates. Up to 35 points of GEBV REL could be assigned to national genomic information, and up to 17 points of GEBVM REL could additionally be attributed to the integration of foreign sire genomic and MACE information. Results indicated that the combined foreign progeny-tested sire genomic and external MACE information can be used in the single-step genomic evaluation as an equivalent replacement for domestic phenotypic information. Thus, an equal or slightly higher genomic breeding value REL was obtained sooner than the pedigree-based breeding value REL for the female selection candidates. When the abundant foreign progeny-tested sire genomic and MACE information was used to complement available national genomic and phenotypic information in single-step genomic evaluation, the genomic breeding value REL for young-female selection candidates increased approximately 10 points. Use of international information provides the possibility to upgrade small national training populations and obtain satisfying reliability of genomic breeding values even for the youngest female selection candidates, which will help to increase selection efficiency in the future.