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Effect of parentage misidentification on estimates of genetic parameters for milk yield in the Mediterranean Italian buffalo population

Parlato, E., Van Vleck, L.D.
Journal of dairy science 2012 v.95 no.7 pp. 4059-4064
DNA, artificial insemination, breeding value, buffaloes, bulls, calving, conception, cows, data collection, heritability, lactation, milk yield, models, paternity, pedigree, phenotypic variation, progeny testing, sires, variance
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of parentage misidentification on estimation of genetic parameters for the Italian buffalo population for milk yield from 45,194 lactation records of 23,104 Italian buffalo cows. Animals were grouped into 10 data sets in which sires and dams were DNA identified, or reported from the pedigree, or unknown. A derivative-free restricted maximum likelihood method was used to estimate components of variance with a repeatability model. The model contained age at calving nested within parity and days from calving to conception as linear covariates, herd-year-seasons as fixed effects, and additive genetic, permanent environmental, and temporary environmental effects as random effects. Estimates of heritability (±SE) ranged from 0.00±0.099 (sires and dams as reported in the pedigree) to 0.39±0.094 (sires DNA identified and dams as reported in the pedigree). When identification of sires was as reported in the pedigree, estimates of heritability were close to zero. These small estimates indicate that a large proportion of reported paternity is incorrect. When sires are unknown and dams are DNA identified, the proportion of variance due to sires seems to be captured in the estimate of permanent environmental variance as a fraction of phenotypic variance. Therefore, as heritability decreased, permanent environmental variance increased about the same amount. Data sets with dams identified from pedigree and sires DNA identified showed the largest estimate of heritability (0.39), which was essentially the same as when dams were DNA identified (0.38). This result supports that most dams are correctly reported from the pedigree. Genetic progress should be much greater with bulls DNA identified because of greater heritability, but without artificial insemination and progeny testing, progress would be slow and would depend mostly on selection of sires based on dam estimated breeding values. Implementation of artificial insemination programs and DNA testing to identify sires are the keys for increasing genetic progress in the Italian buffalo population.