NTM Unlocked
Comparing breeding values between breeds

In this post, we will talk about why you should not compare breeding values (EBVs) for the different traits in NTM between the three breeds. 
We have previously explained that we have breed-specific weights for the traits in NTM. Bovine breeds are different from each other and therefore the weight distribution in the breeding goals for VikingHolstein, VikingRed and VikingJersey are a bit different. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. We want all the breeds to develop towards the optimal balanced breeding outcome while taking into consideration the genetic differences and the natural breed specific tendencies for certain traits. 

The development of genetic trend depends on how much weight is allocated to the specific trait. For traits with higher weights, the genetic progress would go faster. On the contrary, the traits that have little genetic progress have small or no weight in NTM, because it is less valuable to improve the breed for that specific trait. 

When we look at NTM and the genetic trend, the figures can be comparable between different breeds. 
However, if we look at the individual traits, we should look at each breed separately and not compare the genetic levels between the breeds, as the three breeds have different starting points in terms of genetic level for various traits and different development of the genetic trend over time. 

The tables below show the genetic level for the selected traits in NTM and the genetic progress during the period from 2001 to 2016 for the three breeds. 

VikingHolstein 

 Trait

 VikingHolstein 2016

Genetic progress
 2001-2016 in index units

 Production
 114.1
 22.0
 Daughter Fertility
 107.4
18.7 
 Calving Maternal
 107.8
15.0
 Longevity
 114.5
 33.7
 Hoof Health
 105.9
 11.8
 Udder Health
 108.7
19.9 
 General Health 
 105.6
 16.6

VikingRed 


VikingRed 2016

Genetic progress
2001-2016 in index units

 Production
 111.5
 20.1
 Daughter Fertility
102.3
4.1
 Calving Maternal
 105.1
 11.2
 Longevity
 109.1
 21.0
 Hoof Health
 102.0
 2.3
 Udder Health 
 105.2
 9.8
 General Health
 102.1
 3.7

VikingJersey

 Trait

Genetic progress
2001-2016 in index units

 Production
 113.8
 24.5
 Daughter Fertility
 101.7
 5.5
 Calving Maternal
 101.5
 5.7
 Longevity
 104.9
 19.5
 Hoof Health
 98.8
 0.0
 Udder Health
 109.7
 17.4
 General Health
 103.1
 9.8

VikingHolsteins are very high in production by their breed type and abilities, therefore, the weight for improving their Production (27.7%) capability is lower than for VikingRed (36.0%) and VikingJersey (37.0%). As our breeding programmes aim for a balanced breeding outcome, it is more important to focus on developing the health traits for VikingHolstein than production capacity that is developing well already for the breed.

Red breeds and Jersey are better in reproduction traits than Holstein so therefore the weight put for improving daughter fertility and calving is lower for VikingRed and VikingJersey than for VikingHolstein. When looking at the NTM main traits - let’s take Udder Health as an example. VikingJersey has higher weight than VikingHolstein and VikingRed. And that makes good sense, if we look at the phenotypic values for udder health, the population average for mastitis frequency in the first three lactations is 14.4% for VikingJersey; 11.7% for VikingHolstein and 7.4% for VikingRed. For VikingJersey, Udder health is the trait that requires more focus in the breeding programme and we see a significant improvement in that trait for VikingJersey +17.4 index units during the last 15 years. 

 VikingHolstein

 VikingRed

 VikingJersey

 Production
 27.7%
 36.0%
 37.0%
 Daughter Fertility
 11.4%
 8.6%
 8.5%
 Calving Maternal
 5.5%
 4.7%
 2.6%
 Longevity
 4.1%
 2.5%
 3.4%
 Hoof Health
 3.0%
 1.8%
 2.1%
 Udder Health
 12.9%
 10.8%
 18.7%
 General Health
 4.1%
 4.0%
 1.7%

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