Genomics garners much attention at Holstein Convention

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Genomics garners much attention at Holstein Convention

Date: 
Mon, 07/05/2010

Tom Lawlor, Holstein USA's geneticist, spoke before a near capacity crowd at the 125th gathering of the nation's Holstein breeders. Based on the crowd size, it was clear breeders still have many questions following April's genetic evaluations.

During Lawlor's presentation, he told Holstein breeders that there were 1,471 cows that had imputed proofs this April . . . proofs derived from genomic test information from over five offspring. Since then, that number has risen to 2,004 cows as more animals enter the genomic database. Lawlor estimates that breeders saved some $500,000 in testing costs due in part to the imputed genomic proofs.

When it came to two hotly debated issues from the April evaluations, Lawlor told those in attendance that 98 percent of indexes went down when genomic evaluations were rescaled to more closely reflect bull evaluations. Meanwhile, when evaluations were imputed, 56 percent of indexes went up while 44 percent went down. It was the combination of these two events which caused all the turmoil. When rescaled evaluations and imputed proofs were added together, 83 percent of cow indexes dropped with only 17 percent going up.

Lawlor went on to tell breeders about two new genomic tests that were coming soon involving the 3K and 860K chips which will be in addition to the current 52K test. Lastly, Lawlor said that the rescaled indexes should be back on the same base by April 2011 as USDA geneticists hope to have all genomically tested cows on the same base as females with traditional evaluations.