What is Geno breeding department working on in 2020?
Take a look at some of the most important on-going breeding tasks for further development of the Norwegian Red.
The breeding department, or the research, development and implementation department, is responsible for the management of the operational breeding work as well as research, development and implementation, which will make breeding more efficient. The research tasks we prioritize will put dairy producers in focus.
Norwegian Red nucleus breeding plan
The new version of the digital Norwegian Red purebred breeding program made for farmers and advisors has been operational for almost 1.5 years and it is soon has all the functionality we have planned to implement. However, it is important to continue dialogue with the users and continue to further develop and fine-tune the program.
One of the most important tasks is to get good forecasts for beef selection so that the supply of semen doses is in line with what the breeding plans will propose as the first choice.
In addition, we want to improve inbreeding management to also apply to non-genotyped animals so that we use descent information to ensure that no beef selection provides inbreeding levels above an acceptable limit. In addition to increasing the performance of the offspring, it will ensure that bulls that are closely related to many animals in the population less used and thus reduce the inbreeding in the purebred population in general.
With the transition from proven bulls with high reliabilities on the breeding values, to the selection of young genomic bulls where the security is somewhat lower, it is important that we can make better use of all available information than before. We now want to create models where we use information from several lactations to a greater extent, particularly for exterior conformation data.
We also want to extend the models to take into account several correlated characteristics. We aim to have new and better exterior models implemented this fall. We know that cross fertility and inbreeding play a role in several characteristics. Crucifixion and inbreeding are in principle the same phenomenon but with the opposite sign. We also know that this is not hereditary. That is, an individual does not take into account the effects of the mother's inbreeding depression or the father's cross fertility. Therefore, if we can correct for this in the index calculations, we will be able to achieve greater breeding progress. The goal is to have this in place in January 2021.
New reference genome
When doing DNA analysis, it is important to know where each of the SNPs is located on the genome. The cattle world has largely used the same reference genome (the "map"), an old map based on the Hereford breed. A new Hereford reference genome has now been launched.
The new map shows that some SNPs are located elsewhere on the genome than first thought. We are now working to validate breeding values based on the new reference genome to see how the improvement in the reliability of genomic breeding values will be.
We can also mention that we are conducting preliminary studies on developing our own Norwegian Red reference genome. This is based on new sequencing technology and it is not known at present how great the potential for a separate Norwegian Red reference is.
We have funding through the Norway's Directorate of Agriculture for the purchase and installation of equipment to record daily methane gas emissions from Norwegian Red cows. The equipment we have chosen is called "Greenfeed" and is installed in the power feed machine in farms included in our research project. We have now installed approximately half of the 15 "Greenfeed" machines we've ordered. Due to the corona situation, the installation has slowed somewhat.
Correction of pedigree
We have spent a great deal of resources on following up the failure in pedigree that genotyping reveals. Some fixes are relatively obvious, while others require more detective work. The value of correcting relationships in relationships has increased index accuracies by 1-2 percentage points.
Sequencing means that we genotype animals with far greater precision than ordinary genotyping. We usually read approximately 50,000 points or SNPs on the genome of each individual. At full sequencing, we read 13-14 million SNPs on the genome of each animal. This increased amount of information will not significantly increase the accuracy of the breeding values when directly used in genomic breeding value calculations.
On the other hand, it provides an opportunity to map more precisely where important individual genes for different traits are known, also called Genome Wide Association Studies, GWAS. Results from GWAS analyzes can be used in the GS models and provide increased safety on breeding values. We have therefore now sequenced approximately 500 bulls and will continue to sequence all elite bulls routinely in the future.