Geno announces new Norwegian Red genetic evaluation procedures
Gopollen still the top progeny tested Norwegian Red sire for TMI in February proof.
Big changes have taken place in the Norwegian Red breeding program over the past few years and especially during the last several months. These changes will have long-term implications for Geno and our international customers. The key changes stem from developments in the area of genomic selection and the implementation of new genetic evaluation models.
Geno has made remarkable progress in improving the accuracy of our genomic sire proofs over the past year in order for genomics to play a larger role in our program. Progeny tested sires with large daughter groups will still be routinely available but we are ready to introduce genomic-tested bulls into the international marketplace.
A bit of history
In late 2012 and early 2013 genomic selection was first used to select young bulls for the Norwegian Red progeny testing program. Accuracy for the early genomic evaluations was only slightly higher than accuracy for pedigree information for some traits at that time, therefore progeny testing remained critical to our program. We improved the accuracy of genomic evaluations in 2014 and as a consequence reduced our progeny testing program from 125 to 115 sires progeny tested per year. Young bulls with genomic information were used for almost 40% of the matings within Norway in 2014 and 2015, but none of these young sires were exported until recently.
Where we are today
Geno has been able to dramatically increase the accuracy of genomic information through the testing of almost all progeny tested Norwegian Red bulls as well as thousands of cows in Norway. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, we have been able to implement state-of-the-art methodology for genomic prediction called "Single-step GBLUP". Geno may be the first dairy genetics organization to fully implement "Single-step GBLUP" for genetic evaluations. The benefit of the "Single-step GBLUP" approach is higher accuracy for genomic evaluations compared to other approaches.
"Single-step GBLUP" simultaneously includes all performance information, genomic information and pedigree information on all animals. This is in contrast to other systems which rely on a 2-step process where prediction equations are built using traditional genetic evaluations and then are compared (correlated) to genomic information. The bottom line is that the genomic evaluations for Norwegian Red sires have sufficient accuracy for utilization in commercial breeding programs. Within the Geno breeding program in Norway we are quickly moving to over 80% matings with genomic sires and these genomic tested sires will be made available to interested global markets.
Another factor impacting the current Norwegian Red genetic evaluations is the change to a cow-base population (we had previously used a sire base). We still publish genetic evaluations using a standard deviation of 10 and a mean of 100 (or 0 for TMI) but now these are based on the cow population. From a practical perspective, the interpretation of the genetic evaluations is the same as in the past.
Progeny test results
40 Norwegian Red sires received their first official genetic evaluations with this February run. However, none of these sires eclipsed Gopollen (252NR11078) for Total Merit Index (TMI) as Gopollen reached a new high of 38 TMI points. Gopollen is followed by Reitan 2 (252NR11033) with a TMI of 34. Reitan 2 was injured in 2015 but has improved and has returned to limited semen production. He may be available for more semen exports later in 2016.
The top new sire is Oksjale (252NR11229) with a TMI of 34. Oksjale has excellent production (production index = 125), excellent daughter fertility (fertility index = 120) and very good udders (udder index = 109). Oksjale is sired by the Finnish bull Heisalan Ponistus from a daughter of Olstad (252NR5654) and the next dam is a daughter of Lien (252NR5603), so high production was expected from this pedigree. The second ranked new sire (TMI of 31) is Korsen (252NR11209). Korsen will be great for udder conformation, udder health and resistance to diseases.
Genomic tested sires
Geno is excited about the opportunity to use genomic tested sires (sires with pedigree and genomic information and no daughters) at a much higher level within Norway than in the past. Producers outside of Norway have been asking for genomic tested sires and we are pleased and excited to be able to satisfy this market.
Several notable genomic tested sires currently being used in Norway could be available for the export market soon. Roen (252NR11690), Horn (252NR11312), Saur (252NR11572) and Voll (252NR11763) are especially noteworthy. They have high quality Norwegian Red pedigrees and outstanding genomic evaluations. The four bulls range in TMI from 36 to 41. Saur is homozygous polled and he has been exported to the US already. His popularity is growing - - another indication of interest and demand in genomic proven sires outside of Norway.
The next genetic evaluation run will be June 8, 2016.