US to be the first country to genotype cross-bred animals

The Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) in the US, has announced that it will now be able to genotype cross-bred cows – from this month onwards.

The US will be the first country to provide genetic evaluations on cross-bred cows, with the evaluations being based on a “weighted combination of solutions estimated from the purebred populations”.

A collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Genomics and Improvement Laboratory (USDA-AGIL) and the CDCB has allowed this further advancement in genotyping animals.

According to the CDCB, “the estimates for cross-breds are slightly less reliable than those for purebreds, but they provide a means for all genotyped animals to receive the best possible estimate of their genetic value, irrespective of their breed composition”.

The first step

The first step in this advancement was made in 2016, when the CDCB developed the Breed Based Representation (BBR) values – which are only provided through the US system.

This BBR system provides estimates of the proportions of Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein and Jersey genetics in each individual animal.

Since then, they have made significant advancements in this BBR system and consequently, this month all animals will receive new BBR values.

USDA-AGIL and CDCB have made “substantial efforts to extend the benefits of genomic evaluations to cross-breds, enabling producers to increase the value of genotyping, particularly when it is applied to the whole herd”.

Unfortunately this service of genotyping cross-breds is not available in Ireland – as of yet – but at least we know it is not impossible.