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Challenges in inbreeding estimation of large populations based on Polish Holstein-Friesian cattle pedigree

Sell-Kubiak, Ewa, Czarniecki, Łukasz, Strabel, Tomasz
Journal of applied genetics 2018 v.59 no.3 pp. 313-323
Holstein, bulls, cows, farmers, farms, inbreeding, milk, pedigree, progeny, Poland
The aim of this study was to evaluate observed and future inbreeding level in Polish Holstein-Friesian cattle population. In total, over 9.8 mln animals were used in the analysis coming from the pedigree of Polish Federation of Cattle Breeders and Dairy Farmers. Inbreeding level, as an average per birth year, was estimated with the method accounting for missing parent information with the assumption of year 1950 as the base year of the population. If an animal had no ancestral records, an average inbreeding level from its birth year was assigned. Twice the average inbreeding level served as relatedness of the animal to the population, which enabled estimation of inbreeding in its offspring. The future inbreeding of potential offspring was estimated as an average of animals (bulls and cows) available for mating in a certain year. It was observed that 30–50% of animals born between 1985 and 2015 had no relevant ancestral information, which is caused by a high number of new animals and/or entire farms entering the national milk recordings. For the year 2015, the observed inbreeding level was 3.30%, which was more than twice the inbreeding with the classical approach (without missing parent information) and higher by 0.4% than the future inbreeding. The average increase of inbreeding in years 2010–2015 was 0.10%, which is similar to other countries monitored by World Holstein-Friesian Federation. However, the values might be underestimated due to low pedigree completeness. The estimates of future inbreeding suggested that observed inbreeding could be even lower and also increase slower, which indicates a constant need to monitor rate of increase in inbreeding over time. The most important aspect of presented results is the necessity to advise individual farmers to keep precise recordings of the matings on their farm in order to improve the pedigree completeness of Polish Holstein-Friesian and to use suitable mating programs to avoid too rapid growth of inbreeding.