Developing genomic breeding values for the Hays Converter

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Engage Grants Program
  • Year: 2015/16
  • Total Funding: $25,000
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Project Summary

Genomics has had a large impact in dairy cattle through the application of genomic selection. This was achieved with a panel of 50,000 (50k) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In beef cattle the largest impact has been to the assigning of parentage (which does increase rates of genetic improvement in some situations) or selecting for beef quality. Genomic selection is just now becoming available to beef breeders. One of the struggles in making genomic selection work in different breeds relates to the different genetic architectures between breeds, so that it is not possible to apply results from one population to another (for example from Holstein to Jersey for dairy traits). However, when we look within a population, such as those at the University of Guelph (UofG) or the Kinsella ranch (University of Alberta), and try and predict the next generation, the results are very good. The challenge is to be able to develop predictions for other populations. The within-herd prediction accuracies that we experience for the Kinsella herd provide insight into what is possible within a small population (in this case related animals in a herd), when those populations are genotyped and phenotyped. The Hays Converter represents a synthetic breed which has attributes complementary to the other Kinsella populations studied to date. The Hays Converter (HC) has been run as a closed population and inbreeding in the formation of the population has created a unique structure. An initial genomic analysis, of the HC was completed by an MSc student supervised by Steve Miller at UofG in 2013. A positive rate of inbreeding and a decrease in the amount of genetic diversity was found. This proposal is to help the HC to develop a new improvement strategy utilizing genomics to improve rates of genetic improvement while controlling inbreeding.