Impact of Paternity Errors in Cow Identification on Genetic Evaluations and International Comparisons

G. Banos,*,1 G. R. Wiggans,† and R. L. Powell†
*Interbull Centre, Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 75007 Uppsala, Sweden †Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350

ABSTRACT The impact of paternity identification errors on US genetic evaluations and international comparisons of Holstein dairy bulls for milk, fat, and protein yields was investigated. Sire identification was replaced for 11% of Holstein cows that were sired by AI bulls and had records in the US database for national genetic evaluations; US evaluations were computed based on those modified pedigrees and compared with official national evaluations. Estimated breeding values from the data with introduced paternity errors were biased, especially for later generations. Estimated genetic trends decreased by 11 to 15%. Estimates of standard deviations of sire transmitting ability also decreased by 8 to 9%. International multitrait across-country comparisons of bulls were computed based on national evaluations from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and The Netherlands. Estimates of genetic correlations between the United States and other countries decreased by 0.04 to 0.06 when US evaluations were based on modified pedigree. The resulting bias toward selection of domestic bulls and the inability to identify truly superior animals that are available internationally could decrease potential selection differentials by 0.07 to 0.09 standard deviation units on the US scale, which corresponds to sire breeding values of approximately 50 kg for milk, 3 kg for fat, and 1.7 kg for protein. Losses for the other countries were lower and ranged from 0.02 to 0.05 standard deviation units, because a correlation of less than unity with the United States decreased the impact of US cow paternity errors on the scales of other countries. Although paternity verification is desirable and technically feasible, commercial implementation would require low testing costs.

(Key words: pedigree error, genetic evaluation, international comparison, dairy cattle)

2001 J. Dairy Sci. 84:2523-2529

© 2001, by the American Dairy Science Association. All rights reserved.