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Efficient estimation of genetic correlations in beef cattle international evaluations

Published on
October 14, 2020

International evaluations that enable comparison of breeding values between two or more countries, require to estimate genetic correlations between countries. Current methodologies to estimate genetic correlations impose stringent limits on the amount of data that can be simultaneously analyzed. Researchers of Wageningen University & Research investigated the application of a new efficient algorithm for the estimation of genetic correlations between countries. Their results have been published in the journal GSE.

One of the key aspects of an international evaluation is the estimation of genetic parameters between countries, namely the estimation of genetic correlations. Current algorithms focus on selecting informative data to minimize the total computing time required for the estimation process.

Efficient use of large data

Researchers at Wageningen University & Research investigated the application of a recently proposed algorithm for the estimation of genetic parameters, which allows efficient use of large data. Using this algorithm, researchers estimated genetic correlations simultaneously for 10 European Limousin beef cattle populations using a dataset composed of more than 3 million records.

Moreover, the researchers explored strategies to reduce the amount of data required during the estimation process. The proposed strategies reduced the required computational time to 22% of the time required when using all data. The insights of this research are beneficial for the estimation of genetic correlations during international beef cattle evaluations with many populations and large data.

International evaluations of beef cattle

Farmers seek to use the best bulls available to genetically improve their herds. Exchange of frozen semen enables the use and exchange of elite sires within and between countries. The international organization called Interbeef offers third-party international evaluations of beef cattle since 2006. Currently, Interbeef collaborates with 13 countries worldwide and delivers genetic evaluations for 5 different breeds. Interbeef evaluations allow farmers to choose from a larger panel of elite bulls to better meet their selection objectives.