Ex situ conservation of Holstein-Friesian cattle: Comparing the Dutch, French, and US germplasm collections

Danchin-Burge, C.; Hiemstra, S.J.; Blackburn, H.


Holstein-Friesian (HF) gene bank collections were established in France, the Netherlands, and the United States to conserve genetic diversity for this breed. Genetic diversity of HF collections within and between countries was assessed and compared with active male HF populations in each country by using pedigree data. Measures of genetic diversity such as probability of gene origin inbreeding and kinship were calculated. The cryobanks have captured substantial amounts of genetic diversity for the HF compared with the current populations. A substantial part of the US, French, and Dutch collections seems to be genetically similar. On the other hand, the US collection in particular represents an interesting reservoir of HF genes of the past. Gene banks can play an important role in conserving genetic diversity within livestock breeds over time, and may support industry in the future when needed.