Conservation priorities for the different lines of Dutch Red and White Friesian cattle change when relationships with other breeds are taken into account

Hulsegge, B.; Calus, M.P.L.; Oldenbroek, J.K.; Windig, J.J.


From a genetic point of view, the selection of breeds and animals within breeds for conservation in a national gene pool can be based on a maximum diversity strategy. This implies that priority is given to conservation of breeds and animals that diverge most and overlap of conserved diversity is minimized. This study investigated the genetic diversity in the Dutch Red and White Friesian (DFR) cattle breed and its contribution to the total genetic diversity in the pool of the Dutch dairy breeds. All Dutch cattle breeds are clearly distinct, except for Dutch Friesian breed (DF) and DFR and have their own specific genetic identity. DFR has a small but unique contribution to the total genetic diversity of Dutch cattle breeds and is closely related to the Dutch Friesian breed. Seven different lines are distinguished within the DFR breed and all contribute to the diversity of the DFR breed. Two lines show the largest contributions to the genetic diversity in DFR. One of these lines comprises unique diversity both within the breed and across all cattle breeds. The other line comprises unique diversity for the DFR but overlaps with the Holstein Friesian breed. There seems to be no necessity to conserve the other five lines separately, because their level of differentiation is very low. This study illustrates that, when taking conservation decisions for a breed, it is worthwhile to take into account the population structure of the breed itself and the relationships with other breeds.