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    Comparison between a sire model and an animal model for genetic evaluation of fertility traits in Danish Holstein population.

    J Dairy Sci 2009 Aug;92(8):4063-71
    Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, DK-8830, Tjele, Denmark.
    Comparisons between a sire model, a sire-dam model, and an animal model were carried out to evaluate the ability of the models to predict breeding values of fertility traits, based on data including 471,742 records from the first lactation of Danish Holstein cows, covering insemination years from 1995 to 2004. The traits in the analysis were days from calving to first insemination, calving interval, days open, days from first to last insemination, number of inseminations per conception, and nonreturn rate within 56 d after first service. The correlations between sire estimated breeding value (EBV) from the animal model and the sire-dam model were close to 1 for all the traits, and those between the animal model and the sire model ranged from 0.95 to 0.97. Model ability to predict sire breeding value was assessed using 4 criteria: 1) the correlation between sire EBV from 2 data subsets (DATA(A) and DATA(B)); 2) the correlation between sire EBV from training data (DATA(A) or DATA(B)) and yield deviation from test data (DATA(B) or DATA(A)) in a cross-validation procedure; 3) the correlation between the EBV of proven bulls, obtained from the whole data set (DATA(T)) and from a reduced set of data (DATA(C1)) that contained only the first-crop daughters of sires; and 4) the reliability of sire EBV, calculated from the prediction error variance of EBV. All criteria used showed that the animal model was superior to the sire model for all the traits. The sire-dam model performed as well as the animal model and had a slightly smaller computational demand. Averaged over the 6 traits, the correlations between sire EBV from DATA(A) and DATA(B) were 0.61 (sire model) versus 0.64 (animal model), the correlations between EBV from DATA(T) and DATA(C1) for proven bulls were 0.59 versus 0.67, the correlations between EBV and yield deviation in the cross-validation were 0.21 versus 0.24, and the reliabilities of sire EBV were 0.42 versus 0.46. Model ability to predict cow breeding value was measured by the reliability of cow EBV, which increased from 0.21 using the sire model to 0.27 using the animal model. All the results suggest that the animal model, rather than the sire model, should be used for genetic evaluation of fertility traits.
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